TN 11 (02-07)
PR 08005.023 Maryland
A. PR 07-061 Martian N. H~, (Wage Earner SSN: ~)
DATE: January 31, 2007
The State of Maryland recognizes home schooling. Its home education statute requires:
A written agreement, indicating consent to the home school regulations, from the parent or guardian who teaches the child;
Submission of the written agreement to the local school superintendent at least 15 days before beginning a home instruction program;
Annual verification regarding continuation of home schooling;
Evidence that the home school provides instruction on a regular basis in English, mathematics, science, social studies, art, music, health, and physical education; and
Evidence in the form of an educational portfolio that regular, thorough instruction is being provided in the specified subjects during the school year.
The home school parent/teacher must submit evidence of compliance with Maryland law. The student must meet Federal standards for full-time attendance and all other requirements for the payment of benefits.
This is in response to your request for an opinion concerning whether, for the purposes of student benefits, the home-schooling of Martian N. H~ (Martian) qualifies as full-time secondary school attendance (FTA) under federal and Maryland law.
We have reviewed the information that you provided, contacted the Maryland State Department of Education and Home School International (HSI), and researched the relevant provisions of federal and Maryland law regarding home-schooling and full-time attendance. It is our opinion that Martian's home-school program does not satisfy the federal standards for full-time attendance or the requirements of Maryland's home-school law.
The record indicates that Martian was born on October 12, 1987, and began receiving child=s benefits on the account of the deceased wage earner, James V. H~, in April of 2002. Martian reached her 18th birthday on October 12, 2005. Her benefits were terminated in October 2005 because she had attained the age of 18 and was not a full-time student in a secondary school. Martian resides in Prince George's County, Maryland.
Martian completed a Student Statement Regarding School Attendance (SSA-1372) form on September 12, 2005. Martian indicated in item one of the SSA-1372 form that she was scheduled to attend, for twenty-five hours a week, a home-school program administered by Home School International (HSI) that began on September 12, 2005, and ended in June of 2006. She further noted that she expected to graduate from HSI in June 2006. In item two of this form, Martian noted that she attended HSI for twenty-five hours a week from September 2004 to July 2005. The SSA-1372 form also contained a section entitled “Certification By School Official," which was signed by Alayne T~, Ph.D., Vice-President of Education for HSI.
Dr. T~ did not check the boxes contained in this section which verified that items one and two completed by Martian were correct and that the school's course of study was at least thirteen weeks in duration.
The Agency contacted Dr. T~ for clarification of the items she failed to verify on the SSA-1372 form. Dr. T~ resubmitted the SSA-1372 form and verified that items one and two completed by Martian were correct and that the school's course of study was at least thirteen weeks in duration. Dr. T~ also submitted a signed statement, dated November 14, 2006, in response to additional information requested by the Agency. In her statement, Dr. T~ stated that: HSI (currently called Griggs International Academy) was a distance education school, approved by the state of Maryland and accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council; students study using course materials developed by experienced and certified teachers and delivered by correspondence or online; courses were designed to comply with a traditional school year of fifteen weeks per semester, with two semesters representing a full school year; students studying with HSI at the high school level are considered full time if they enroll (or intend to enroll) in at least five units of credit per school year; HSI offers high school courses that may lead to a high school diploma, issued by HSI and recognized by the state; and that Martian was not a full-time student after June 2006 because she discontinued her studies with HSI.
We contacted Dr. T~ and clarified that online delivery of educational instruction by HSI was by way of correspondence, not live lecturing.
We also contacted the Maryland State Department of Education and confirmed in correspondence dated January 18, 2007, that HSI was approved by the Maryland State Board of Education to offer instruction “solely” through correspondence courses for kindergarten through grade 12.
Entitlement to child=s benefits ends in the month before the month in which a child reaches the age of 18 years, unless the child is disabled or is a full-time student. If, at age 18, a non-disabled recipient of child=s benefits qualifies as a full-time student, her entitlement ends with the last month that she is a full-time student or, if earlier, in the month before her 19th birthday. 20 C.F.R. '' 404.350(a)(5), 404.352 (b)(1), 404.367 (2006); Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001(A).
To qualify as a full-time, home-schooled, student, an individual who has attained age 18 must (1) meet federal standards for full-time school attendance; (2) attend home-schooling in a state that recognizes home-schooling as a legitimate educational institution; (3) attend an elementary or secondary program of home-schooling that meets the requirements of the law of the state in which the home-school is located; and (4) meet all other requirements for benefits. 20 C.F.R.' 404.367; POMS RS 00205.275(B).
The first requirement in issue is whether Martian meets federal standards for full-time school attendance. To meet the federal standards for full-time attendance a student must: (1) be scheduled for attendance at a rate of at least twenty hours per week; (2) enrolled in a course that is not a correspondence course; (3) enrolled in a course of study that is of at least thirteen weeks duration. 20 C.F.R. ' 404.367(b)-(c); POMS RS 00205.300(C).
The SSA-1372 form which Martian completed on September 12, 2005, and Dr. T~ verified, indicated that Martian's school year began on September 12, 2005, and was expected to end in June 2006. The SSA-1372 form also showed that Martian was scheduled to attend HSI for twenty-five hours per week. Therefore, Martian met the FTA criteria of being enrolled in a course of study lasting at least thirteen weeks in duration, for at least twenty hours per week.
Martian does not however meet the last criteria required for FTA in that the record indicates that she was enrolled in a home-school correspondence course. Documentation provided by the Maryland State Department of Education specifically states that HSI is approved by the Maryland State Board of Education to provide educational instruction for kindergarten through grade 12 “solely” through correspondence courses. Dr. T~, Vice-President of Education for HSI, also verified in answers provided to the Agency that educational instruction was provided to HSI students by correspondence or online. Dr. T~ did clarify by way of telephone that online delivery of educational instruction by HSI was by way of correspondence only, not live lecturing.
Consistent with this evidence, the record does not contain any evidence indicating that textbooks or personalized instruction were utilized as teaching tools by Martian's mother in Martian's home-school program. Hence, we believe that this information is sufficient to warrant a conclusion that Martian was enrolled in a correspondence home-school course and does not meets all of the federal full-time attendance requirements. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b)-(c); POMS RS 00205.300(C). Because Martian does not meet all of the criteria for FTA, she has not satisfied the first criteria under the POMS RS 00205.275.
Additionally, although Martian meets the second criteria, she does not meet the third criteria under POMS RS 00205.275. With respect to the third criteria under the POMS RS 00205.275, Maryland's home-school education statute requires: (1) a written agreement, from the parent or guardian who chooses to teach the child, indicating consent to the home-school regulations; (2) submission of the written agreement to the local superintendent at least fifteen days before the beginning of a home instruction program; (3) annual verification regarding continuation of home-schooling; (4) evidence that the home-school instructional program is being provided on a regular basis in the areas of English, mathematics, science, social studies, art, music, health, and physical education; (5) and evidence by way of an educational portfolio that regular, thorough instruction during the school year in the specified areas, is being provided. COMAR 13A.10.01.01 (Maryland's home-school education statute). The record does not contain any evidence of compliance with Maryland's home-school statute.
In light of the evidence of record, we believe that the home-schooling of Martian does not qualify as full-time secondary school attendance (FTA) under federal and Maryland's home-school law. Accordingly, Martian would not be eligible to receive student benefits.
For the reasons stated above, it is our opinion that Martian's home-school program does not satisfy the requirements of Maryland's home-school law and the federal standards for full-time attendance. Therefore, Martian would not be entitled to student benefits from October 12, 2005 through June 2006.
Regional Chief Counsel
Assistant Regional Counsel