South Dakota Homeschool

South Dakota Homeschool Attendance Ages:  Children that turn 5 years old before September 1 of the current school year are eligible to enroll into a homeschool program within the state of South Dakota.  Students are eligible for homeschool up until they turn 18 or graduates high school. 

South Dakota Homeschool Required Days of Instruction: South Dakota requires all homeschool students to receive the same education instruction days as public school students.  All students must be in a  nine-month term school schedule.

South Dakota Homeschool Required Subjects: South Dakota home school students must learn the following subjects: Languare, Arts, and Math

Homeschools and non-accredited private schools are referred to in statutes as “alternative instruction” or “alternative education.”  A child can be excused from school attendance if they are enrolled in a homeschool course because the child is otherwise provided with alternative instruction for an equivalent period of time, as in public schools, in the basic skills of language arts and mathematics.

1. Parents homeschooling their children must annually submit an application for an excuse to a local school official. It must be notarized or signed by two witnesses, and include the names of the teachers, place of instruction, and description of the basic skills taught. Parents must use the form written by the Secretary of the Department of Education and Cultural Affairs.

Effective July 1, 2011, the child is excused automatically upon the filing of the application, without the necessity of any school board action, as a result of the enactment of HB 1133. The application should be filed no later than the first day of school in the local school district.

The first time, only, an application for excuse is filed for a specific child, the parents must include either a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate, or an affidavit swearing or affirming that the child for whom the excuse is being requested is the same as the person appearing on the child’s birth certificate. The affidavit must be notarized or witnessed by two witnesses. Violation of this requirement is a misdemeanor.

3. If the parents submit a birth certificate under paragraph 2, above, it must be maintained by the … alternative instruction program and it shall be part of the child’s permanent cumulative school record.

4. The birth certificate requirement was amended after some school districts misinterpreted the former law and tried to obtain homeschoolers’ birth certificates.

5. No individual may teach more than twenty-two children.

The Secretary of the Department of Education may inspect the records of an alternative education program with 14 days’ written notice if the secretary has probable cause to believe the program is not in compliance.  The records to be inspected are limited to attendance and evidence showing academic progress. This statute does not give officials authority to enter a home. Before any homeschooler’s records can be inspected, the state has the burden of proving it has reliable evidence that the family is not in compliance. Suspicion or an anonymous tip is not sufficient. Rarely do school officials have evidence of sufficient quality and quantity to satisfy the probable cause standard so as to authorize them to review any homeschoolers’ records.

7. Parents may appeal a revocation of their certificate of excuse to the state board of education, which will conduct a hearing.  On appeal, the burden of proving noncompliance will be upon the secretary of the Department of Education and Cultural Affairs. The state board’s decision shall be final as to the secretary’s right to appeal.  If the school board fails to make any decision within 30 days after the application for excuse is filed, a family may proceed.

South Dakota Homeschool Teacher Qualifications: South Dakota does not have specific homeschool teacher qualifications.

Standardized Tests: Children who are in grade levels 2, 4, 8, and 11 must take either the standardized test used in the local public school district or, at their option, any other nationally standardized test. Parents must file with the local school. Although a school district has authority to monitor the test, this is done so rarely (essentially never) that any demand to monitor should be carefully examined for discrimination. The school district has no authority to enter a home to monitor a test.  If a subsequent test shows less than satisfactory academic progress, the school board may refuse to renew the child’s certificate of excuse.