New Jersey Homeschool

Statutory requirements regarding compulsory education?

The following New Jersey statutes apply to compulsory education:

  • N.J.S.A. 18A:38-25 requires that “every parent, guardian or other person having custody and control of a child between six and 16 to ensure that such child regularly attends the public schools of the district or a day school in which there is given instruction equivalent to that provided in the public schools for children of similar grades and attainments or to receive equivalent instruction elsewhere than at school.”

Note:  The provision, “to receive equivalent instruction elsewhere than at school” in N.J.S.A. 18A:38-25, permits a parent/guardian to educate the child at home.

  • N.J.S.A. 18A:38-31 states that “a parent or guardian or other person having charge and control of a child between the ages of 6 and 16 years, who shall fail to comply with any of the provisions of the article (N.J.S.A. 18A:38-25) relating to his/her duties, shall be deemed to be a disorderly person and shall be subject to a fine of not more than $25.00 for the first offense and not more than $100.00 for each subsequent offense, in the discretion of the court.”

There are two major court decisions in New Jersey relative to homeschooling:

  • State v. Vaughn 44 N.J. 142 (1965): This case deals with the procedures to be employed when a parent/guardian is charged with failing to cause the child to attend school under the compulsory education law.  During the prosecution of a case against a parent/guardian for a violation of the compulsory education law, the State needed only to allege a violation of the statute.  It was then incumbent upon the parent/guardian to introduce evidence showing that they are relying on one of the two statutory exceptions (day school or equivalent instruction elsewhere than at school).  Once there is such evidence in the case, the burden of persuasion with respect to whether the education comes within the exception is with the State.
  • State v. Massa 95 N.J. Super 382 (1967): In court, the parents were charged with failing to cause the child to attend school under the compulsory education law.  The only issue before the court was whether the parents were providing equivalent instruction.  The court held that the language under the compulsory education law, providing for equivalent instruction elsewhere than at school, required showing only academic equivalency and not equivalency of social development derived from group education.  In educating the child at home, the parents were required to show only that “the instruction was academically equivalent to that provided in the local public school.”

*This information was not compiled by a lawyer. This should by no means be interpreted as legal advice. It is your responsibility to interpret and understand the laws that you will be homeschooling under.

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