Illinois Law on Homeschooling
[NOTE: This article should not be considered legal advice. For specific legal questions, please consult with a licensed attorney. Homeschool families may be eligible for legal assistance by contacting Home School Legal Defense Association.]
Illinois law requires that students between the ages of 6 and 17 attend either a public or private school. A homeschool is considered a private school. There is no separate category for homeschools compared to other private schools under the Illinois School Code (105 ILCS 5/26-1). In 1950, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that homeschools are to be considered as private schools. In "People v. Levisen" the court ruled that a private school is, "a place where instruction is imparted to the young. . . the number of persons being taught does not determine whether a place is a school."
In 1974, the U.S. District Court stated in the case "Scoma v. Chicago Board of Education" that the "Levisen" decision quoted above was "reasonable and constitutional.” Thus, the federal and state courts have recognized that the legal requirements for a homeschool are the same as any other private school in Illinois.
All private schools, including home schools, are required to teach the branches of education that are taught to children of the same age and grade as in the public schools, and those classes must be taught in the English language. There is room for discussion about what the traditional "branches of education" include, but they are generally accepted as the following: Language Arts, Biological and Physical Sciences, Math, History and Social Sciences (including both U.S. and Illinois Constitutions), Fine Arts, Health and Physical Development. If you are teaching the branches of education taught to children of similar age and grade as public schools, then you are complying with the laws of Illinois concerning education.
The Illinois School Code contains a requirement that every PUBLIC school teacher provide "character education, which includes the teaching of respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, trustworthiness, and citizenship, in order to raise pupils' honesty, kindness, justice, discipline, respect for others, and moral courage . . .." (quoted from 105 ILCS 5/27-12). Although this requirement is not expressly placed on private schools, ICHE believes that all education is a matter of character development, and a sound home education is no different.
Testing, Registration, and Filing requirements
In Illinois, you enjoy the freedom to shape your school day and your curriculum for your children's specific needs and talents. The Illinois state government does not require testing, evaluation, or special oversight. As the a parent who administers a homeschool, are not required to be certified or licensed as a teacher. You are NOT required to administer standardized testing, but you MAY choose to do so. You are NOT required to register or file any documentation with the state or local school district, but you MAY choose to do so.
ICHE & Legal Representation
ICHE participates as a member of the Ad Hoc Committee for Illinois Home Education Legal and Legislative Matters. Other organizations which are also members of Ad Hoc are: Home Oriented Unique Schooling Experience (HOUSE); Christian Liberty Academy (CLA); Clonlara Home Based Education Program (HBEP).
This committee is dedicated to protecting private Home Schools from state regulations which infringe upon the liberty of parents in the education of their children. Through Ad Hoc, ICHE has representation on The Illinois Advisory Committee on Non-Public Schools.
Along with other Ad Hoc members, ICHE has presented workshops for Regional Superintendents, Truant Officers, and other public school officials, and has testified before legislative committees. One of the most publicized events of ICHE's appearance before a legislative body was the testimony it offered to the Senate Education Committee regarding homeschool attendance in conjunction with SB136. You can read more about that event on several websites, including our own at this link.