TN 13 (05-15)

PS 08005.012 Georgia

A. PS 15-110 Eligibility for Child’s Insurance Benefits as a Full-Time Elementary or Secondary School Student Based on Enrollment in Kentucky Downs Day School

DATE: April 10, 2015 

1. SYLLABUS

Georgia law pertinent to its home school reporting requirements has changed, and this opinion modifies PR 00-501 (10/2/91). Legislation effective July 2013 amended subsection (6) of Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690 to permit a parent or guardian  to execute any document required by law to evidence a child’s enrollment and attendance in a home study program. Before the amendment, the statute required annual submission of attendance records to the Georgia Department of Education (DOE).

The evidence in this case does not show that the claimant’s mother submitted a Home Study Declaration of Intent (DOI) to the Georgia DOE. Although the claimant’s instruction through Kentucky Downs Day School appears to meet Georgia’s other requirements for a home study program, the claimant is not a home school student under Georgia law because her mother did not submit a Home Study DOI to the Georgia DOE.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

For determining a claimant’s eligibility for child’s insurance benefits (CIB) as a full-time student, you asked whether Kentucky Downs Day School (KDDS), an entity located in Georgia, is an educational institution or if the claimant’s instruction through KDDS qualifies as home schooling under Georgia law. You also asked if the claimant is in full-time attendance based on her instruction through KDDS.

OPINION

KDDS is not an educational institution under Georgia law and the claimant is not a home-school student in accordance with Georgia law. The claimant also does not meet Georgia or Federal standards for full-time attendance.

BACKGROUND

According to the information provided, J~(Claimant) received CIB on the earnings record of decedent H~, the number holder. Claimant turned eighteen years of age in September 2014 and her CIB terminated. In February 2015, Claimant completed a Student’s Statement Regarding School Attendance, wherein she indicated she lives in Macon, Georgia, and attends an educational program full time at or through KDDS, also located in Macon. Claimant indicated KDDS is a home school program.  Claimant reported the school year at KDDS began on August 1, 2014, and ends on May 16, 2015. Claimant also reported she attends KDDS thirty-five to forty hours per week and expects to graduate from high school in May 2015.  Claimant indicated she is not married or disabled and no employer pays her to attend school. L~, Ph.D., administrator and teacher at KDDS, completed and signed the Certification of School Official and indicated the information Claimant provided was correct. L~ also indicated KDDS’s course of study lasts at least thirteen weeks.

In August 2014, Claimant’s mother completed and signed a Declaration of Intent to Utilize a Home Study Program (Home Study DOI). In an undated letter to the Social Security Administration (SSA), Claimant’s mother stated that when she first removed Claimant from public school, the Bibb County School District approved KDDS for use as a home school program. Claimant’s mother noted that Bibb County School District “no longer has a home school office”; so, she is unable to obtain answers from the school district regarding Claimant’s home schooling.

On November 20, 2014, SSA contacted Georgia Department of Education (DOE) Program Manager A~ to determine whether the Georgia DOE had any record of Claimant’s Home Study DOI.  A~ responded that neither Claimant nor her mother were on file with the Georgia DOE.

Claimant’s transcript from KDDS shows she completed classes in English, French, mathematics, history, science, and various other subjects at the ninth to eleventh grade levels, and is scheduled to complete classes in the same basic subjects at the twelfth grade level in the 2014-2015 school year.  A copy of the KDDS College Preparatory Graduation Requirements (curriculum) indicates that the curriculum was adapted from Mount de Sales Academy for use with Mount de Sales Southern Association of Colleges & Secondary Schools (SACS) and Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) Accredited Curriculum.1  The curriculum consists of a total of twenty-four credit hours, with units for English, mathematics, science, social studies, a foreign language, and various other subjects.  The curriculum gives summaries of the material covered in the individual classes in each subject area. Claimant also submitted a document showing that L~ received a graduate degree in science education.

Claimant’s mother’s undated letter to SSA indicates Claimant meets with L~ at her house five hours per day, Monday through Thursday, and does assignments online on Fridays.  A Home Study Program Monthly Attendance Report dated September 2014 indicates Claimant attended home school eight days in August 2014.

A score-sheet from ACT Student Web Services shows Claimant took the ACT test in June 2014.

DISCUSSION

To be eligible for CIB on the earnings record of an individual who dies fully or currently insured, an individual who is eighteen years of age or older and not disabled must be a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.”  Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B)(i), (d)(7)(A); see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2014); 2 Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001.A. An individual may qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student” if he or she attends an educational institution, i.e., a school that provides elementary or secondary education (twelfth grade or below) as determined under the law of the State in which the school is located. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (d)(7)(C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (e); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.200.A. An individual also may qualify as an elementary or secondary school student if he or she receives instruction in elementary or secondary education at home under the home school law of the State or other jurisdiction where the individual resides. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1); POMS RS 00205.275.A.  Additionally, an individual may be considered an elementary or secondary school student if he or she is in an independent study program administered by the local school or school district in accordance with the law of the State or jurisdiction in which he or she resides. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(2); POMS RS 00205.285.An individual also must attend school full time to qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.300.A. An individual attends full time if he or she is attending an educational institution and meets both State and Federal standards for full-time attendance. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (c); POMS RS 00205.295.B; POMS RS 00205.300.A.  Similarly, an individual attending an on-line school may be considered a full time student if the on-line school is consistent with the law of the State in which the on-line school is located (i.e., an educational institution), and meets both State and Federal standards for full-time attendance. See POMS RS 00205.295.B; POMS RS 00205.300.A.  An individual meets the State standards of full-time attendance if a qualifying educational institution considers the individual to be a full-time student based on the institution’s standards and practices. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.300.B; POMS RS 00205.350.C.1. An individual meets the Federal standards if he or she is scheduled to attend school at the rate of at least twenty hours per week, enrolled in a noncorrespondence course, and enrolled in a course of study lasting at least thirteen weeks. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300.C. A home schooled individual must meet the Federal standards for full-time attendance and meet the home-school requirements of the State in which the home school is located. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.275.B. Attendance for a student in an independent study program must also meet the Federal full-time attendance requirements, which one accomplishes by combining the number of hours at a school facility with the agreed upon number of hours in independent study. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(c); POMS RS 00205.285.B.

Educational Institution under Georgia Law

Because KDDS is located in Macon, Georgia, we look to Georgia law to determine whether KDDS is a school that provides elementary or secondary education. See Act § 202(d)(7)(C)(i); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.200.A. Georgia law mandates attendance in a public school, private school, or home study program for children between their sixth and sixteenth birthdays. See Ga. Code. Ann. § 20-2-690.1 (West 2015).3 The Bibb County School District’s website does not list KDDS as a public school. See http://www.bcsdk12.net/cms/lib01/GA01000598/Centricity/Domain/1/20142015%20School%20District%20Directory%20w%20Alternatives.pdf (last visited Mar. 31, 2015). Thus, we must determine whether KDDS is a private school. 4

The evidence does not show that KDDS is a private school. Under Georgia law, a “private school” is an institution that meets the following requirements: 

  1. its primary purpose is to provide education;

  2. it is privately controlled and operates on a continuing basis;

  3. it provides instruction for the equivalent of 180 days of education with each school day consisting of at least 4 and 1/2 hours;

  4. it provides a basic educational program, which includes reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science;

  5. it meets certain requirements to report information to each local public school district that has residents enrolled, including a list of the name, age, and residence of each enrollee; and

  6. (6) any building used by the institution for private school purposes meets all health and safety standards. 

See Ga. Code. Ann. § 20-2-690(b). 

Based on the evidence, it appears KDDS may meet the requirements regarding length of instruction and basic educational content. See Ga. Code. Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(3), (b)(4). However, the evidence does not show whether KDDS meets any of the other requirements to be a private school under Georgia law. In particular, the evidence does not show whether KDDS (1) reports enrollee information to the local public school district or (2) uses a building that meets all health and safety standards. See Ga. Code. Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(5), (b)(6).  Accordingly, the evidence does not establish that KDDS is an educational institution for determining whether Claimant is a full-time elementary or secondary school student. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (d)(7)(C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.200.A.

Home Study Program and Independent Study under Georgia Law

Because Claimant is a resident of Georgia, we consider whether she is a home school student under Georgia law. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1); POMS RS 00205.275.B. Under Georgia law, parents or guardians may teach their children in a home study program meeting the following requirements: 

  1. (1) the parent, parents, or guardian must submit a DOI to use a home study program to the DOE within 30 days after the establishment of a home study program and by September 1 annually thereafter;

  2. (2) the DOI must include certain enrollment and address information;

  3. (3) the parent or guardian providing instruction must possess at least a high school diploma or general educational development diploma (GED), although the parent or guardian may employ a tutor who holds a high school diploma or GED to provide instruction;

  4. (4) the home study program must provide a basic academic educational program, defined to include reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science;

  5. (5) the home study program must provide instruction each 12 months equivalent to 180 school days per year with each school day consisting of at least 4 and 1/2 school hours, unless the child is physically unable to comply;

  6. (6) students must be subject to an appropriate nationally standardized testing program administered in consultation with a person trained to administer such tests at least every 3 years beginning in third grade; and

  7. (7) the home study program instructor must write an annual progress report. 

Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c). 

The child’s parent or guardian has authority to execute any document required by law, rule, regulation, or policy to evidence the enrollment of a child in a home study program, the student’s full-time or part-time status, the student’s grades, or any other required educational information. Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(6). 5 Claimant does not qualify as a home school student under Georgia law because her mother did not submit a Home Study DOI to the Georgia DOE. 6 See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(1). In November 2014, SSA asked Georgia DOE’s Home Study Program Manager A~ whether the Georgia DOE had a record of Claimant’s Home Study DOI. A~ responded that the Georgia DOE did not have a record of Claimant or her mother in its files. Because Claimant’s mother has not submitted a Home Study DOI to the Georgia DOE, Claimant is not instructed in elementary or secondary education at home in accordance with Georgia law for purposes of CIB. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1); POMS RS 00205.275.B.Claimant’s instruction through KDDS otherwise appears to satisfy the requirements of a home study program under Georgia law. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c). The evidence indicates L~ has a graduate degree in science education, and is therefore qualified to tutor Claimant. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(3). According to KDDS’s curriculum and Claimant’s transcript, Claimant receives instruction in a basic academic education, including reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(4).  Claimant reported, and L~ confirmed, that KDDS’s school year began on August 1, 2014, and ends on May 16, 2015, therefore lasting 198 days excluding weekends and public holidays, which is 18 days more than the statutory requirement. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(5). Additionally, Claimant’s mother indicates Claimant attends school at L~’s house Monday to Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., with assignments online on Fridays, and Claimant indicates she is scheduled to attend between thirty-five and forty hours per week at school.  Thus, Claimant attends at least four and one-half hours of school per school day. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(5).  While it is unclear whether Claimant’s June 2014 taking of the ACT test satisfies the requirement of triennial standardized testing, she may still be subjected to appropriate testing before the end of her twelfth grade year.7 See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(7). Finally, Claimant’s transcript indicates L~ writes an annual assessment of Claimant’s academic progress in each of her areas of study. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(8). Regardless, as discussed, Claimant is not a home school student under Georgia law because her mother did not submit a Home Study DOI to the Georgia DOE.

Moreover, Claimant’s participation in KDDS does not appear to satisfy the independent study provisions of the regulations. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(2). Independent study is a method of alternative secondary education used in some States. POMS RS 00205.285.A. Local education agencies, such as high schools or school districts, run independent study programs. Id. Independent study programs are run “in accordance with specific State law requirements, and the credits earned count toward high school graduation.” Id. The programs involve periodic teacher contact, direction, and testing on campus, with the student making academic progress generally through independent study at home. Id. Nothing in the information provided suggests any local school or school district runs KDDS. As such, Claimant’s participation in KDDS does not seem to satisfy the independent study requirements.

Finally, because Claimant’s study through KDDS does not qualify as either an educational institution or a home study program under Georgia law, Claimant does not satisfy the requirements for full-time attendance. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (c); POMS RS 00205.295.B; POMS RS 00205.300.A.

CONCLUSION

Claimant has not demonstrated KDDS is an educational institution under Georgia law. Additionally, Claimant has not demonstrated that she is participating in a home study program or independent study program in compliance with Georgia law. Thus, she is not a full-time elementary or secondary school student based on her instruction through KDDS. 

Sincerely ,
Mary Ann Sloan

Regional Chief Counsel

By: _____________________

Owen Keegan
Assistant Regional Counsel

B. PS 11-136 Status of Liberty University Online Academy as an Educational Institution Number Holder – E~ Claimant – C~

DATE: August 4, 2011

1. SYLLABUS

The claimant’s education through Liberty University Online Academy (LUOA), located in Lynchburg, Virginia, does not meet the requirements for home schooling in Georgia. There is no evidence that the claimant’s mother submitted a declaration of intent; kept attendance records and submitted them to the local superintendent; or wrote an annual progress report. Neither is there evidence that the claimant took a nationally standardized test. Further, instead of a parent or guardian, LUOA provides instruction to the claimant. Although the Georgia statute permits a parent or guardian to employ a tutor who has a high school or general education development diploma, the opinion does not address whether LUOA qualifies as a tutor because, for the preceding reasons, the claimant does not qualify as a home school student under Georgia law.

2. OPINION

OPINION

We believe LUOA is not an educational institution for purposes of determining the claimant’s continuing eligibility for child’s insurance benefits.  The claimant does not qualify as a full-time elementary or secondary school student because LUOA is not a recognized educational institution in Virginia, the state in which the school is located, and because the claimant is not a home school student under Georgia law. Because LUOA is not an educational institution, we do not address whether the claimant is attending LUOA full-time.

BACKGROUND

C~ (Claimant) received child’s insurance benefits until he reached eighteen years of age in June 2011. Claimant resides in Georgia. Claimant’s mother reported Claimant began attending LUOA in March 2011.  LUOA is an online, home schooling, academic program, based in Lynchburg, Virginia. See LUOA, About Online Homeschooling, http://www.libertyonlineacademy.com/about/ (last visited August 1, 2011); LUOA, Contact Information, http://www.libertyonlineacademy.com/contact/ (last visited August 1, 2011). Claimant reported he “attends” LUOA 40 hours per week. M~, an academic advisor at LUOA, stated Claimant is enrolled in six courses and logs in approximately 30 hours per week on average. LUOA’s school year consists of 180 days and allows students 10 months to complete the school year.  LUOA, What to Expect With Online Homeschooling, http://www.libertyonlineacademy.com/index.cfm?PID=14797 (last visited August 1, 2011).  M~ stated Claimant should complete his eleventh grade classes by the end of August 2011.

DISCUSSION

Eligibility for Child’s Insurance Benefits as a Full-Time Elementary or Secondary School Student–Generally

To be eligible for child’s insurance benefits on the earnings record of an insured person who is entitled to old-age or disability benefits, a claimant eighteen years or older who is not disabled must be a full-time elementary or secondary school student. See Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B)(i); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2011). To qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student,” a student must attend a recognized educational institution, which is a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under the law of the state in which the school is located. See Act § 202(d)(7)(C)(i); 20 C.F.R.

§ 404.367(a); Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.200A.  A student attending an online school may be a full-time student if the student meets the other requirements for full-time attendance and the online school meets the requirements for recognition under the law of the state in which the online school is located. See POMS RS 00205.295B.   

A student may also qualify as “full-time elementary or secondary school student” if he is “instructed in elementary or secondary education at home in accordance with a home school law of the State . . . in which [he] reside[s].” 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1). A home school student must carry a subject load that is considered full-time for day students under standards and practices set by the State in which he resides. 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b).  Also, a student must be scheduled to attend at least 20 hours per week to meet the requirements of full-time attendance. 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(c).

Status of LUOA as an Educational Institution in Virginia

Because LUOA is located in Virginia, we look to Virginia law to determine whether LUOA qualifies as an elementary and/or secondary school. Virginia does not recognize online schools as educational institutions. See POMS PR 08205.052B. On July 28, 2011, the Office of the Regional Chief Counsel, Region III (Region III) verified this precedent opinion is still correct.  However, Region III also noted the Virginia General Assembly recently promulgated standards regarding providers of online courses, known as multidivision online providers.  Region III also advised that the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Virginia must approve multidivision online providers. Region III advised that a student could conceivably take all his courses through an online program approved by the Superintendent of Public Instruction, but cautioned that any student enrolled in any online program offered by a local school division must be enrolled in a public school in Virginia and can only receive credit for courses that his local school board has approved.

The Superintendent of Public Instruction has not approved LUOA as a multidivision online provider. See Approved Multidivision Online Providers, Provider List, https://p1pe.doe.virginia.gov/amop_public/ (last visited August 1, 2011). In addition, Claimant, a Georgia resident, is not enrolled in a public school in Virginia. Accordingly, Claimant has not satisfied the requirements for taking courses through a virtual program under Virginia law.  LUOA does not qualify as an elementary or secondary school under Virginia law.

Home Schooling Under Georgia Law

We look to Georgia law to determine whether Claimant qualifies as home school student. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1).  Georgia recognizes three types of educational entities: public schools, private schools, and home study programs. Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(a) (West 2011). Parents or guardians may teach their children in a home study program meeting the following requirements:  (1) the parent, parents, or guardian must submit a declaration of intent to use a home study program to the superintendent of schools of the local school district in which the home study program is located; (2) the declaration must include certain enrollment and address information; (3) the parent, guardian, or tutor providing instruction must possess at least a high school diploma or a general educational development diploma; (4) the home study program must provide a basic academic educational program; (5) the home study program must provide instruction 180 school days per year with each school day consisting of at least four and one-half school hours, unless the child is physically unable to comply; (6) attendance records must be kept and submitted each month to the local school superintendent; (7) students are subject to an appropriate nationally standardized testing program administered in consultation with a person trained to administer such tests; and (8) the home study program instructor must write an annual progress report. Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c).

Claimant’s education through LUOA does not meet the requirements for home schooling in Georgia. There is no evidence that Claimant’s mother submitted a declaration of intent to the superintendent of Claimant’s local school district; kept attendance records and submitted those records to the local superintendent; or wrote an annual progress report; and no evidence that Claimant was subject to a nationally standardized testing program. ** We note that LUOA, rather than a parent or guardian, is providing instruction to Claimant. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c) (“[p]arents or guardians may teach their children in a home study program”). The statute, however, allows a parent or guardian to employ a tutor who holds a high school or general education development diploma. See Ga. Code Ann § 20-2-690(c)(3). It is not necessary to address whether LUOA qualifies as a “tutor” because Claimant’s education through LUOA does not otherwise satisfy Georgia’s home-schooling requirements. 

Full-Time Attendance

Because LUOA does not qualify as an elementary or secondary school under Virginia law and Claimant does not qualify as a home school student under Georgia law, Claimant does not meet the definition of a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a).  Accordingly, we do not address whether Claimant is attending LUOA full-time.

CONCLUSION

Clamant does not establish he is a full-time elementary or secondary school student because LUOA is not a recognized educational institution under Virginia law and Claimant does not qualify as a home school student under Georgia law.  As a result, Clamant is not eligible for child’s insurance benefits.

Sincerely,

Mary Ann Sloan

Regional Chief Counsel

By: _______________

Alison E. Loy

Assistant Regional Counsel

C. PS 00-501 Georgia - Home Schooling

DATE: October 02, 1991

1. SYLLABUS

Georgia State Law recognizes home schooling. Georgia law permits parents or guardians to teach their children in a home study program that meets the following requirements:

  • The parent(s) or guardian must submit within 30 days after beginning a home study program and by September 1 each year thereafter a declaration of intent to use a home study program to the superintendent of schools of the local school district in which the home study program is located;

  • The declaration of intent must include a list of the names and ages of the students enrolled in the home study program, the address of the home study program, and a statement of the 12 month period to be considered the school year for the home study program;

  • Parents or guardians with at least a high school diploma or a general educational development (GED) equivalency diploma may teach only their own children; they may also hire a tutor who has at least a high school diploma or GED equivalency diploma to teach such children;

  • The home study program must include, but is not limited to, reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies and science;

  • The home study program must provide its students with the equivalent of 180 school days of at least four and one-half school hours of instruction in each 12 month period, unless the child is physically unable to comply with this rule;

  • Attendance records for the home school program must be kept and submitted at the end of every month to the superintendent of the local school district in which the home school program is located;

  • Students in home school programs must take a nationally standardized test to evaluate their educational progress at least every three years beginning at the end of the third grade, and the records and scores of these tests must be kept; and

  • The home school instructor must write an annual progress report of the student's academic progress in each subject area, and the parent(s) or guardian must retain these reports for at least 3 years.

The home school instructor should submit evidence that Georgia laws are being met.

2. OPINION

Your office has requested our opinion as to the following:

(1) Whether a home schooling situation in Georgia qualifies under section 202(d)(7) of the Social Security Act as a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under the law of the State of Georgia;

(2) What requirements must be followed in home schooling situations; e.g., must specific subjects be taught; are students tested; must parents seek written approval from the school board; are there any specific attendance requirements or verification.

Discussion

Section 202(d)(7) of the Social Security Act provides in pertinent part that:

(A) A "full-time elementary or secondary school student" is an individual who is in full-time attendance as a student at an elementary or secondary school, as determined by the Secretary (in accordance with regulations prescribed by him) in light of the standards and practices of the schools involved. . . .

(C)(i) An "elementary or secondary school" is a school which provides elementary or secondary education, respectively, as determined under the law of the State or other jurisdiction in which it is located.

The State of Georgia has enacted statutes which permit and define the requirements for home schooling within the State. If a home school operates pursuant to these statutory provisions, it is our opinion that the school qualifies as a school that provides elementary or secondary education under section 202(d)(7) of the Social Security Act. Georgia statutes specifically provide that the subjects of reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies and science must be taught in home schools. See, O.C.G.A. §20-2-690(c)(4).

Written approval from the school board is not a prerequisite for a home school study program for a child, however, the parents or guardians of the student(s) must submit a declaration of intent to utilize a home study program to the superintendent of the local school district within 30 days after the establishment of the program and annually thereafter. See, O.C.G.A. §20-2-690(c)(1).

Attendance requirements are the same for home study programs as regular schools and attendance records from a home school in Georgia will satisfy the evidence of school attendance provisions contained in 20 C.F.R. §404.745. Home study programs are also subject to nationally standardized testing programs and academic progress is to be evaluated through testing at least every three years beginning with the third grade. See, O.C.G.A. §20-2--690(c)(7).

Georgia statutes pertaining to home schooling are found at section 20-2-690(c) of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated. These statutory provisions provide as follows:

(c) Parents or guardians may teach their children at home in a home study program which meets the following requirements:

(1) The parent, parents, or guardian must submit within 30 days after the establishment of a home study program and by September 1 annually thereafter a declaration of intent to utilize a home study program to the superintendent of schools of the local school district in which the home study program is located;

(2) The declaration shall include a list of the names and ages of the students who are enrolled in the home study program, the address where the home study program is located, and a statement of the 12 month period that is to be considered the school year for that home study program. Enrollment records and reports shall not be used for any purpose except providing necessary enrollment information, except with the permission of the parent or guardian of a child or pursuant to the subpoena of a court of competent jurisdiction;

(3) Parents or guardians may teach only their own children in the home study program provided the teaching parent or guardian possesses at least a high school diploma or a general educational development (GED) equivalency diploma; the parents or guardians may also employ a tutor who has at least a high school diploma or GED equivalency diploma to teach such children;

(4) The home study program shall provide a basic academic educational program which includes, but is not limited to, reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science;

(5) The home study program must provide instruction each 12 months to home study students equivalent to 180 school days of education with each school day consisting of at least four and one-half school hours unless the child is physically unable to comply with the rule provided for in this paragraph;

(6) Attendance records for the home study program shall be kept and shall be submitted at the end of each month to the school superintendent of the local school district in which the home study program is located. Attendance records and reports shall not be used for any purpose except providing necessary attendance information, except with the permission of the parent or guardian of a child or pursuant to the subpoena of a court of competent jurisdiction;

(7) Students in home study programs shall be subject to an appropriate nationally standardized testing program administered in consultation with a person trained in the administration and interpretation of norm reference tests to evaluate their educational progress at least every three years beginning at the end of the third grade and records of such tests and scores shall be retained but shall not be required to be submitted to public educational authorities; and

(8) The home study program instructor shall write an annual progress assessment report which shall include the instructor's individualized assessment of the student's academic progress in each of the subject areas specified in paragraph (4) of this subsection, and such progress reports shall be retained by the parent, parents, or guardian of children in the home study program for a period of at least three years.

As stated herein, it is our opinion that home schools in Georgia can qualify as an elementary or secondary school as defined under section 202(d)(7) of the Social Security Act. If you have any further questions or concerns with respect to this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Footnotes:

[1]

Mount de Sales Academy is a private Catholic secondary school in Macon, Georgia. See Mount de Sales, http://www.mountdesales.net/ (last visited Mar. 31, 2015).

[2]

All references to 20 C.F.R. are to the 2014 version.

[3]

All references to the Georgia Code are to the West 2015 version.  Georgia refers to a home school program as a “home study program.”  Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(a).

[4]

The Georgia DOE website does not include KDDS in its list of Georgia private schools. See https://app3.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/psc_pack_mainmenu.pvsch_list_public?p_sort=1 (last visited Mar. 30, 2015).  However, the website does not indicate whether its list of private schools is exhaustive. See Georgia DOE, Schools and Districts, http://www.gadoe.org/External-Affairs-and-Policy/AskDOE/Pages/Schools-and-Districts.aspx (last visited Mar. 30, 2015).

[5]

The Georgia Legislature amended subsection (6) of Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c), effective July 2013, to grant authority to a parent or guardian to execute any document required by law to evidence a child’s enrollment and attendance in a home study program. See 2013 Ga. Laws 335. Prior to the amendment, the statute required submission of attendance records annually to the Georgia DOE. See 2012 Ga. Laws 642.

[6]

It is not clear if Claimant’s mother is aware of the requirement to submit the Home Study DOI to the Georgia DOE rather than the local school district.  Claimant’s mother completed and signed a Home Study DOI on August 20, 2014. However, the Home Study DOI appears to be on an outdated version of the form.  For example, the form indicates it is from 2005, and it directs the parent or guardian to submit the DOI to the student’s local school district rather than the Georgia DOE. Additionally, in an undated letter to SSA, Claimant’s mother stated she continues to contact the local school district regarding Claimant’s home schooling, even though she acknowledges that the local school district “no longer has a home school office.”

[7]

Georgia requires standardized testing of home school students every three years beginning in third grade, and thus Claimant would be required to take a standardized test in third, sixth, ninth, and twelfth grades. See GA. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(7).


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/1608005012
PS 08005.012 - Georgia - 05/04/2015
Batch run: 05/04/2015
Rev:05/04/2015