Whether you’re a brand new homeschooler or a veteran homeschool parent, we have tried to condense the most frequently asked questions about Minnesota’s legal requirements for you. Scan the menus below to find the information you are looking for. Can’t find it? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your question.
Minnesota Homeschool Law Summary
Understanding Minnesota law as it applies to homeschool parents can be intimidating, especially if you are just starting or taking your children out of public or private school. The state statutes can be found here (https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/120A.22).
Additional information on sales tax exemption, PSEO, driver’s education, shared time, testing, and other information is available to MÂCHÉ members in the MÂCHÉ Online Handbook.
To join MÂCHÉ or renew your membership, go to the Membership tab at the top of the page. The annual membership fee is $45 and membership extends for a year from date of joining (or expiration date, for past members).
Parents must submit their intent to homeschool to the school district where they live by October 1 of each year. Children ages 7-17 must receive instruction. There are special rules if you start homeschooling a child at age 16. Contact MÂCHÉ for further information at email@example.com.
The first year: Submit immunization records and Initial Report to Superintendent by Oct. 1st of the year your child turns 7 before Oct.1st.
Subsequent Years: File your Letter of Intent to Continue Homeschooling. You must also submit immunization records again when they enter seventh grade or at age 12. Once your child turns 16, reporting is no longer necessary unless you begin homeschooling at age 16. If you begin homeschooling a child at the age of 16, you must submit a letter of intent to continue until the child turns 17. If you withdraw your student out of another school to begin homeschooling in the middle of a school year, you must report to the district within 15 days after the withdrawal.
Withdrawing a Student to Begin Homeschooling: If you withdraw your student out of another school to begin homeschooling in the middle of a school year, you must notify the superintendent and you are encouraged to also notify their teacher and principal. Then file your report within 15 days after the withdrawal. If you decide to homeschool over the summer please file your report when their school starts in the fall to avoid being reported truant. Use the Initial Report to Superintendent and mention to the school that the student’s immunization records are already in their files.
Minnesota law does not specify how home educators should write their annual report, only that it is due by October 1 each year and certain information must be communicated. MÂCHÉ encourages you to use one of our forms or to write your own letter instead of any documents a local school district may send, because those usually are, to some degree, in error. Do not set precedent by reporting more information than the statute specifies.
Always keep a photocopy of your annual report for your records.
Required subjects are reading, writing, literature, fine arts, math, science, history, geography, economics, government, citizenship, health, and physical education. There is no specific requirement in Minnesota law for how often each of the subjects must be taught or at what grade levels.
Parents should consider college admission requirements as they determine which courses to include in their student’s high school years. Students also have the option of dual enrollment - taking college courses that will count for both high school and college credit.
There aren’t any requirements regarding the number of days in the teaching calendar. A typical school year consists of approximately 180 days.
Minnesota law requires that you keep records showing that the required subjects are being taught and proof that the tests required have been administered (yearly achievement tests).
You should include class schedules, copies of materials used for instruction, and descriptions of methods used to assess student achievement. We also recommend that you keep records of attendance, information on the textbooks and workbooks used, and student work samples. It is best to maintain these records for at least three years.
If your child is in high school, you should maintain these records for all four years of high school.
In addition to the items already noted, parents should prepare a transcript for their middle school and high school students.
Please note: MÂCHÉ Members may download a free transcript template on the Member Resources Page.
According to Minnesota law, you are required to administer or have your child take a nationally standardized achievement test each year. You are NOT required to turn in the results to the school district. You should keep the results in your records. However, if your child scores at or below the 30th percentile on the total battery score, you are required to obtain additional evaluation to determine if the child has learning problems.
Home educated students between the ages of seven and 16 (or 17 in some instances) are to be tested yearly using a nationally norm-referenced standardized achievement test. The requirement to use a nationally norm-referenced standardized achievement test ends when a home educated student turns 16 years old (unless the student just began homeschooling at age 16).
In preparation for entering college, high school students may take the ACT, CLT, and/or the SAT. These tests do not replace the required annual tests for students under the age of 16.
If you are registered with an organization that is a recognized Minnesota accrediting association, you are not required to test your children.
Parents teaching their own children are automatically qualified. If someone other than a parent is the primary teacher, he or she must have one of the following qualifications:
- Hold a valid Minnesota teaching license in the field and grade taught,
- Be directly supervised by a licensed teacher,
- Successfully complete a teacher competency exam,
- Provide instruction in a school that is accredited by a state-recognized accrediting agency, or
- Hold a baccalaureate degree.
Athletics, Driver's Education, and Learning Disabilities
Homeschooling families in Minnesota have a wide range of opportunities and choices regarding athletics and extracurriculars that have been well established since the late 1990s. Many of these choices are the result of a very interesting story.
In 1997, there was a committed homeschooling mother who wanted her daughters to experience the extracurricular activity of band within their local public school. She asked their resident district if her daughters could participate. The school district decided to cash in on this “poor defenseless” homeschool mother, requesting an exorbitant fee for participation from the mother because "her daughters were costing the school district lost aid."
The district was surprised to find out that the mother was a neighbor and a good friend of then powerful Speaker of the House, Phil Carruthers. In the resulting aftermath, was a substantial expansion of the right of homeschool families to access athletic and other extracurricular activities within the public schools. The point that homeschool families are paying taxes to support the public schools came out clearly during the passage of this legislation. The moral of the story . . . get to know your legislators.
The law changes that occurred at that time were the requirement that homeschool families have a right to participate in “extracurricular activities" sponsored by their resident school district. A district may not charge fees greater than the public school students pay. Further, your student is allowed to participate on the same basis as the public school students. Therefore, your student has to compete for a position just like everybody else and abide by all the rules. This does not that mean you must submit to the public school’s educational requirements, but you are required to follow the school’s participation rules.
Minnesota State High School League is a layer of administration over high school athletics. In order to create an environment of fair competition at the high school level, MSHSL was created as a cooperative nonprofit entity made up of both public and private schools. MSHSL is not a state agency but rather a members’ organization. The members are each of the schools that have joined this organization and, as a result, may participate in MSHSL sanctioned events.
It is important to understand that MSHSL rules only cover "high school" activities. This is participation in varsity athletics, high school B squads, junior varsity and sophomore team. It does not apply to ninth grade teams, middle school teams or community programs because those activities are not covered under the MSHSL rules.
Rules related to participation in middle school athletics or community programs are governed by the local school board or community organizations. If the program is managed by the school district, homeschool students have a right to participate at the same fee and criteria as public school students.
When homeschool students get to high school and choose to participate in athletics, there are several options recognized by the MSHSL. The simplest is to participate in their resident school district. In that situation there is nothing special students need to do with regards to MSHSL, but your student has to prove academic eligibility. The local school, as a member of MSHSL, has to certify that their team is eligible and if challenged, the penalties are very severe for the local team. MSHSL student academic eligibility information is to be reported by the homeschool to the public school athletic director for inclusion on their list of eligible students. A simple letter to the public school athletic director indicating your student is “making adequate progress toward a diploma at your school and is in compliance with MSHSL eligibility requirements” should be adequate information to demonstrate eligibility for participation. This academic eligibility requirement does not give the public school the right to dictate curriculum or testing requirements to the resident homeschool family.
If a homeschool student cannot or does not want to use the residency participation option, he can compete as an individual MSHSL member. The MSHSL has long recognized homeschooling as a private school with rights to participate fully in the league activities. Therefore, if a student chooses to participate other than through his resident school district, the homeschool must now become a full voting member of MSHSL. In order for your homeschool to become a full member, there is an annual service fee of $100 as well as a $90 registration fee for each activity sponsored by your school. This was the change that occurred this summer. MSHSL used to provide a nonvoting membership for a lesser fee for homeschoolers, but have chosen to remove this option starting in the 2014 fall season. To read more about this change, you can refer to their memo on this subject on their website.
If you are a team athlete and you do not want to participate in your district of residence, you still have another option. You can become a member of MSHSL and then form a cooperative sponsorship with another MSHSL member. Therefore, your child, through the cooperative sponsorship, may join the team of a neighboring district, a private school that is a MSHSL member or their resident school if you have a family of more than five (see below "Large Families"). For example, your daughter who plays soccer may have grown up playing in the neighboring district’s community program and the coach wants her to play for the high school team. This is where you would use the cooperative sponsorship. You may also use this option to join a private school team in your community. The downside is that each homeschool family would have to join as a full MSHSL member.
The local school board or the private school has complete discretion whether to enter into a sponsorship. Also, the school may be members of a local conference that limits their ability to enter into cooperative agreements with other schools. This is not regulated by the MSHSL and could limit your ability to participate on other teams outside of your resident public school. Therefore, prior planning is definitely necessary to accomplish this type of cooperative agreement. There are also deadlines that have to be met prior to participation in the first day of practice. Good relationships with the coach and with the athletic director will go a long way in helping these efforts along. Contact MSHSL for membership information: 763-560-2262, 2100 Freeway Boulevard, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430. MSHSL also has a lot of information on its web site at www.mshsl.org. The League has special homeschool instructions on the web page at:
Finally, there is one small quirk in Minnesota’s law on homeschool participation in athletics for larger families. The statutes protecting homeschoolers’ right to participate in their resident school district extends these protections to only those homeschool families with "five or fewer students receiving instruction (at home)." Most districts ignore this quirk and allow larger families to participate equally. The MSHSL does not require anything special for larger families participating in their resident public school athletics. Nonetheless, a school district could choose to be difficult. In that case a family of more than 5 children receiving instruction (students between the ages of seven and 17) may have to become a member of MSHSL and establish a cooperative agreement even with your resident public school.
The question has arisen in the past whether a group of homeschool families could create a club or whether a homeschool cooperative could put a team together to participate in MSHSL activities. In conversations with the MSHSL staff, this question has not been raised yet; but they agree it is possible with a couple challenges to fit under their present rules. Because a club team or cooperative is not a "school" under the definitions of MSHSL, each of the homeschool families that have students participating on the team would have to become MSHSL members and create a cooperative agreement under the MSHSL rules. This could be rather expensive for this type of arrangement. The staff at MSHSL indicated they would consider an appeal to waive the rule in this situation to reduce the overall fee, but there are no guarantees in that this question has never been brought before the MSHSL board to date.
The bottom line is that participation in athletics is not a good reason to stop homeschooling at high school. With a little planning and relationship building, your student can participate in athletics at the high school level while still being homeschooled. Spend time familiarizing yourself with the MSHSL rules on its website and get involved in the local community sports teams you want your children to be involved in. It will benefit you in cutting through the red tape.
You can find more details and instructions on extracurricular activities in Section 3 of the recently updated MÂCHÉ Online Handbook.
A law that took effect January 1, 2015 requires additional behind the wheel training for all students under 18 seeking their provisional driver’s license. The law also seeks to encourage parents to get more involved in the behind the wheel training. The legislation increases the amount of time students must spend supervised behind the wheel to at least 40 hours (30 hours previously). This increase is to 50 hours if the primary driving supervisor has not taken optional supplemental training. The law also increases the amount of required nighttime driving to 15 hours (10 hours previously).
In order to reduce behind the wheel to 40 hours, the parent must take a 90 minute supplemental training regarding graduated driver licenses, safety risks associated with novice drivers, the potential influence of adults on driving behavior of novice drivers, and additional driver’s education resources. All the other homeschool drivers education requirements remain the same.
To learn more about homeschool drivers education requirements, you can visit the Minnesota Department of Public Safety website pdf on homeschooling.
The legislature adopted a temporary tax credit in 2014 for treatment expenses for K-12 students who have a specific learning disability such as dyslexia. This new credit allows for recovery on your taxes of 75% of these treatment costs up to a total of $2000.
The law defines “treatment” to mean instruction that teaches language decoding skills in a systematic manner, uses recognized diagnostic assessments to determine the appropriate treatment, and uses research-based methods.
This new tax credit may have very limited benefit to homeschool families, because it requires a student to have a specific learning disability diagnosis under the special education laws. This would likely mean the student would have to go through the Individual Education Plan (IEP) procedure with the public school. Further, the statute requires that the expenses must have been incurred for purposes of meeting the state academic standards required for Minnesota public schools.
Therefore, it will be hard for traditional homeschool families to qualify. It may be possible for families that have pulled a dyslexic student from the public school who already has an IEP to get this tax credit. However, even then it may be more work than benefit.
Most of these expenses could be covered under the traditional tax credits and deductions available to homeschool families. Therefore, making extra hoops a family must jump through becomes more costly than they may be worth.
If you are going to take advantage of this new tax credit, seek advice from a competent tax advisor and make sure you keep all of your receipts.
MÂCHÉ Legislative Update
The 90th Minnesota State Legislature adjourned without any major changes that affected home educators. Last year in the First Special Session of 2017, MN Senate File 773/House File 731 regarding required citizenship instruction passed and was signed into law. As we previously pointed out, that means that economics and citizenship must be included in the social studies area along with history, geography, and government. Be sure that you adjust your schedule to include those new subjects.
MÂCHÉ issued a legislative alert in April regarding MN Senate File 3335 because of terminology. Your calls and emails were very effective in bringing attention to our concerns, and we are glad to report that the sponsor of the bill (Senator Ruud and her staff assistant) worked with us and Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) to amend the wording. One of the concerns that we have involves any language that singles out homeschoolers from nonpublic schools.
MN Senate File 3367/House File 3287 regarding immunization/autism/sex trafficking originally contained language that we felt was detrimental to homeschoolers. After discussion with the sponsors of the bills, the language regarding immunization and autism was removed. The amended bill passed in the 2018 regular session. We are very grateful for our new MÂCHÉ legislative liaison, Julie Johnson. She is doing excellent work and has already demonstrated a good grasp of the need to constantly build and strengthen relationships with our legislators.
MÂCHÉ works behind the scenes as much as possible to stay abreast of legislation, both in Minnesota and nationally, that may impact homeschoolers. We also appreciate our working relationship with HSLDA. Their assistance is invaluable. We are very careful to only send legislative alerts when we feel it is important, but when we do send one out, your immediate response sends a powerful message to your legislators. Thank you for your vigilance and participation.
In the summer of 2011, the Minnesota Legislature passed the Homeschool Mandate Reduction ill, improving homeschool reporting and strengthening homeschooling rights in Minnesota. We owe a huge thanks to Senator Gen Olson, Representative Mary Kiffmeyer and Representative Sondra Erickson. They did a fabulous job outlining the success of homeschooling over the last three decades and were rock solid in defending your right to direct the education of your children.
Julie and her husband Tom attended their first MÂCHÉ conference in the spring of 2002 and began their homeschool journey the following fall when their oldest child started kindergarten. All but one of their children have graduated from their homeschool, and the youngest is anticipated to graduate in 2021.
Julie has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Bethel University in Roseville, Minnesota. Prior to homeschooling, she was a Subrogation Manager for Aetna US Healthcare. Julie enjoys running marathons and appreciates all things French. In addition to serving with MÂCHÉ, she encourages homeschool families that are involved in competitive homeschool forensics as the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association Minnesota State Representative. She also leads a metro area speech and debate club.
Julie is excited for this opportunity that God has provided to support the Minnesota homeschool community by researching, analyzing, and monitoring legislation and communicating with state legislators. She looks forward to assisting MÂCHÉ in their efforts to keep families informed and educated on the current legislative front.
Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)
HSLDA is a nonprofit advocacy organization established to protect family freedoms and defend the constitutional right of parents to direct their children’s eduction. Through annual memberships, HSLDA is tens of thousands of families united in service together, providing a strong voice whenever it is needed and working together to preserve each other's right to homeschool ... together.
- HSLDA advocates on the legal front on behalf of our members in matters which include conflicts with state or local officials over homeschooling. Each year, thousands of member families receive legal consultation by letter and phone, hundreds more are represented through negotiations with local officials, and dozens are represented in court proceedings. HSLDA also takes the offensive, filing actions to protect members against government intrusion and to establish legal precedent. On occasion, HSLDA will handle precedent-setting cases for nonmembers, as well.
- HSLDA advocates on Capitol Hill by tracking federal legislation that affects homeschooling and parental rights. HSLDA works to defeat or amend harmful bills, but also works proactively, introducing legislation to protect and preserve family freedoms.
- HSLDA advocates in state legislatures, at the invitation of state homeschool organizations, by assisting individual states in drafting language to improve their homeschool legal environment and to fight harmful legislation.
- HSLDA advocates in the media by presenting articulate and knowledgeable spokesmen to the press on the subject of homeschooling. HSLDA staff members are regularly called upon for radio, television, and print interviews, and their writings are frequently published in newspapers and magazines across the country. HSLDA’s own bimonthly magazine, The Home School Court Report, provides news and commentary on a host of current issues affecting homeschoolers. And its two-minute daily radio broadcast, Home School Heartbeat, can be heard on nearly 500 radio stations.
- HSLDA advocates for the movement by commissioning and presenting quality research on the progress of homeschooling. Whether it’s in print, from the podium, or on the air, HSLDA provides insightful vision and leadership for the cause of homeschooling.
While HSLDA has no official relationship with MÂCHÉ, they do provide us the opportunity to offer HSLDA membership at a discount to our member families. Additionally, they work closely with MÂCHÉ to monitor legislation that may impact homeschooling.
MÂCHÉ encourages all homeschool families to become members of HSLDA. With both MÂCHÉ and HSLDA working together on their behalf, Minnesota homeschoolers will have a healthier home education environment. For more information about HSLDA, visit www.hslda.org.
Michael P. Donnelly, Esq.
Director of International Relations
Mike serves as staff attorney for member affairs in the states of Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia. As director of international relations he oversees HSLDA’s support of persecuted homeschoolers in the Federal Republic of Germany and coordinates support to encourage greater freedom for homeschoolers all over the world. Mike is an adjunct professor of government at Patrick Henry College where he teaches constitutional law.