The purpose of this memorandum is to respond to your request for our opinion regarding
whether a home school would qualify under section 202 (d) (7) of the Social Security
Act (the Act) as a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined
under Texas law. See 42 U.S.C. § 402 (d) (7). Specifically, you asked whether Tyler B~ qualifies as a
full-time student of an elementary or secondary school and is, therefore, entitled
to receive benefits on the record of Raymond Bennett. After reviewing the facts and
relevant law, we believe that Tyler's home school qualifies as an educational institution
under Texas state law and that Tyler is entitled to benefits on Mr. B~'s record.
As we understand the facts, Tyler attained age eighteen in July 2003 and filed an
application for child's benefits. Tyler has been home schooled since October 2001.
In February 2003, Tyler re-enrolled in a course sponsored by the Lighthouse Christian
Academy. Tyler's mother, Kimberly B~, signed a Statement of Claimant or Other Person,
on which she reported that Tyler attends school approximately 250 days per year. Ms.
B~ further indicated that Tyler's courses include music, physical science, civics,
economics, American history, English, typing, chemistry, computers, and good citizenship.
She also stated that she has obtained approval from the Board of Education to operate
a home school and that she completed a letter of intent to educate Tyler at home,
although verification of this was not provided. She further stated that she keeps
a record of Tyler's attendance. Ms. B~'s provided a record, entitled "Lighthouse Christian
Academy Master Record Sheet," which contains Tyler's test scores and attendance records.
Tyler completed a Student's Statement Regarding School Attendance, on which he reported
that his school is the Lighthouse Christian Academy, through a home school program,
and that he is scheduled to attend school thirty-five hours per week. Tyler reported
that he expected to graduate from high school in February 2004.
The materials you have provided include a web page containing a description of the
Lighthouse Christian Academy (the Academy). The web page indicates that the Academy
provides a curriculum and assistance to parents who serve as home school teachers,
as well as report cards, transcripts, and high school diplomas. The Academy also offers
support and materials for home school teachers who wish to independently select the
educational materials and manage the administrative functions.
The materials you have provided also include a letter from the Texas Education Agency
(TEA), which informs school administrators of the TEA's position regarding home-schooled
students. The TEA states that home-schooled students are exempt from compulsory attendance
requirements and are entitled to transfer credits to the same extent as students enrolled
in private schools. The materials provided also include a letter from the TEA entitled
"Home School Information Letter," which reiterates the TEA position and provides guidance
to individuals on potential sources of information. The letter indicates that the
TEA does not regulate, index, monitor, approve, or register home schooling programs.
You have also provided a copy of a 1991 opinion released by this Office on the subject
of home schooling in Texas. As discussed below, the conclusions and analysis in that
opinion remain valid.
As you know, the child of a wage earner may receive benefits after age eighteen if
he is a full-time elementary or secondary school student. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.350 (d) (1). A student receiving home school instruction in accordance
with the law of the state in which he resides is considered a full-time elementary
or secondary school student. As Tyler resides in Texas, Texas state law applies. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367.
Texas does not have a statute specifically authorizing home schooling. Texas does,
however, acknowledge private and parochial schools as meeting the state's compulsory
attendance provisions, as long as a course in good citizenship is included in the
course of study. See Tex. Educ. Code Ann. § 25.086(1). As discussed in our 1991 opinion, although Tyler
is age 18 and, therefore, not subject to compulsory attendance requirements, acceptance
of his home schooling for compulsory attendance purposes indicates state acknowledgement
of his instruction for other purposes as well.
The Texas Supreme Court has expressly determined that a home school can be a private
school and, therefore, that attendance at a home school satisfies the state's compulsory
attendance statute. See Texas Education Agency v. Leeper, 893 S.W.2d 432, 443-44 (Tex. 1994), reh'g overruled March 16, 1995. In Leeper, the court affirmed the lower court holding that was addressed in the 1991 opinion
provided by this Office. The court discussed Texas' long history of acceptance of
home schooling as equivalent to private schooling. See
id. at 433-35. The court then discussed the Texas Education Agency's (TEA) having taken
the position in 1981 that home schooling did not satisfy the compulsory attendance
requirements, a position the TEA abandoned during the defense of its case in Leeper. See
id. at 435-37, 443-44. The court found that the lower court had properly determined that
home schooling satisfies compulsory attendance requirements and that the TEA properly
acknowledged the error of the position it had taken in 1981. See id. at 443-44. Following the Leeper decision, the TEA released the materials discussed above, acknowledging the validity
of home schooling.
As discussed above, Texas requires that a course in good citizenship be included in
the course of study for private or parochial school attendance to satisfy compulsory
attendance requirements. See Tex. Educ. Code Ann. § 25.086(1). A home school can be considered a private school.
See Leeper at 443-44. Ms. B~ has indicated that Tyler's curriculum includes a course in good
citizenship. She has also included civics on the list of Tyler's courses. Thus, we
believe that it would be appropriate to determine that Tyler's home schooling meets
the compulsory attendance requirements.
In addition, the records provided indicate that Tyler takes numerous courses typical
of a high school curriculum and representative of a full course load and that attendance
records and test scores are maintained. Moreover, Ms. B~ and Tyler have indicated
that Tyler attends school 250 days a year and approximately thirty-five hours a week.
If you are satisfied that these representations are accurate, the requirement that
Tyler be a full-time student would also be met. Thus, Tyler would be entitled to benefits
on Mr. B~record (assuming that all other eligibility requirements, not included in
your request for our opinion, are met).
Tina M. W~
Regional Chief CounselBy: ____________________
Brenda M. L~
Assistant Regional Counsel