Court Rulings on Home Education

School District Policies Must Be in Keeping with Court Decisions

This document aims to assist school district officials in understanding the Commonwealth's home education law so that they may align their policies with that law. Be reviewing the relevant statutes and court decisions when developing home education policies, school districts will be able to ensure that their policies and language do not go outside the boundaries of statutory language and court decisions.

Legitimate considerations for school officials who are reviewing home education proposals are delineated in two Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decisions:

Care and Protection of Charles (1987)

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled that school committees may enforce certain reasonable educational requirements in the case of home education. The Court also cautioned superintendents and school committees that homeschool approvals must not be conditioned on requirements that are not essential to the State interest in ensuring that "all children shall be educated." The Court then issued some guidelines for approval of home education proposals.

Brunelle v. Lynn Public Schools (1998)

In this unanimous Supreme Judicial Court Opinion, the Court ruled that home visits could not be mandated as a condition of approval of a home education plan. The decision also observed that "in certain important ways [home education] can never be the equivalent of in-school education." The Court ruled that any requirement made in evaluating home education proposals must be not only reasonable, but also essential.

Each school district maintains its own home education policies, which must be in keeping with the guidelines of these two court cases.