Homeschoolers and Dual Enrollment in Public School

Directional street signs, green one says homeschool and points left, red one underneath it says public school and points right.  Red lettering says "Can We Do Both?" Yellow round cartoon face frowning, scratching its head, with black question mark, against a gray brick wall.

 

Homeschoolers and Dual Enrollment in Public School

 

Have you heard about homeschoolers and dual enrollment in public schools?  Here in North Carolina?

 

The first time that I heard about homeschool high school students being able to take public school classes was in 2010. A high school in Charlotte advertised that homeschool students could pay to take one of their virtual classes.  How much did it cost?  Around $500! 

 

Things have definitely changed since then.  It has become much more common for public school districts to offer homeschool high school students the opportunity to enroll part-time in public school and take online courses for FREE! 

But wait, there's more!  According to a February 14, 2018 article published in the Salisbury Post, public schools are considering allowing homeschoolers to enroll in on-campus courses.

 

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This Sounds Scary!

 

 

Most people who hear about public schools allowing homeschoolers to enroll part-time and take free online classes, can’t imagine this is allowed.  How can a student be both a public school and a homeschool student?

 

Is this some scheme to lure homeschool students into public schools?  Does it have to be done ‘under the table’?  What if the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education (NCDNPE) found out?  Would they close the homeschool? 

 

The idea that someone’s homeschool might be closed is scary.  It is no wonder that the majority of homeschoolers view these programs suspiciously.  Many homeschoolers and even a few homeschool leaders advocate staying away from such programs.

 

 But there are always a few homeschoolers who are interested in trying out new programs.  After exploring how it works, some homeschoolers took a chance and enrolled their students.  Cabarrus County began offering this enrollment option through their HomeReach program in 2013.  Iredell-Statesville also had homeschool students enrolled part-time during the same period. 

 

I personally know homeschool families who enrolled their students in these early programs.  They said positive things about their experiences.  I heard others wish that such a program was available in their school district.  Most of the first districts offering these programs were small with only a handful of homeschool students enrolled. 

 

 

Big Changes in 2016

 

 

In August 2016, a fellow homeschool parent told me that Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools was giving a live Facebook presentation about their virtual public school program.  That sounded nice, but why would I want to watch?  Because they were inviting homeschool students to enroll part-time, for FREE! 

 

I was excited!  To be honest, I always get excited when I learn about new options that are available to homeschoolers.  I had to find out more.  Was this too good to be true?  As I watched, I realized that the option for homeschool students to enroll part-time in virtual public school and take classes for free was no longer limited to small school districts. 

 

Like the other school districts offering these programs, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools required homeschool students to maintain their open homeschool. 

 

After the presentation, I had many questions.  Could it be possible for homeschool students to do this?  Enroll in both homeschool and public school?  There was no mention of NCDNPE's opinion on this program in the presentation.  

 

 

Time to Dig Deeper

 

 

It was time to dig deeper.  It was time to explore, investigate, and ask questions.  I wanted to know:

 

  • Can home school students enroll in these free courses and still be considered a homeschool student? 
  • What does NCDNPE say about this?
  • Why would homeschool students want to enroll in these courses?
  • What should homeschool students and parents know before they enroll?

 

 

Sharing what I Have Learned

 

 

I am excited to share the answers to those questions with fellow North Carolina homeschoolers.  Certainly, everyone can do their own investigation and find their own results.  But, it is a lot of work.  Tracking down this information took the better part of 14 months.

 

The best way for me to share what I've learned is in a series of blog posts.  The posts will cover the following topics:

 

  • Is it legal?
  • Why would homeschoolers want to do this?
  • What should homeschoolers be aware of?
  • Conclusions and acknowledgments. 

 

So, moving right along, I will talk about whether it is legal or not.

 

 

Can A Homeschool Student Enroll Part-Time in Public School Classes for Free

and Still be Considered a Homeschool Student?

 

 

Yes, they can!  Any homeschool high school student that lives in a North Carolina public school district that offers this option can enroll part-time, take FREE virtual public school classes, and still be a homeschool student.  Some students are even taking classes in person on the school campus and more districts are considering this option.

 

So long as the homeschool continues to meet the legal requirements for homeschools in North Carolina, homeschool students can enroll part-time in the public school system and take online classes, for free. 

 

 

 

Is My Homeschool in Jeopardy?

 

 

No.  Enrolling your homeschool student in part-time, virtual public school classes will not jeopardize your homeschool status.  Diane Allen is the Director of NCDNPE.  She has several comments on these programs.  To begin with, Ms. Allen told me that the actual law is silent on this issue. 

 

What does that mean?  It means that there is no law or statute in North Carolina that prohibits a student from being enrolled in both homeschool and public school. 

 

Is that enough to base your decision on?  Ms. Allen also points to the 2013 change in the North Carolina homeschooling law.  That change allowed home schools to utilize outside instruction. 

 

In addition, Ms. Allen shared that other precedents have already been set.  Online distance learning programs such as Calvert and ABEKA are commonly used by homeschoolers in North Carolina.

 

In the past, some have argued that it is okay for homeschool students to enroll in North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS) classes, but only if they pay a fee.  

 

In regards to taking NCVPS classes for free, Diane Allen,

Director of the NCDNPE, states:

"Despite other opinions to the contrary, our office

has looked into the options as they are presented

by the public schools and cannot find any reason

this service would cause the violation of the

homeschool status so long as all other

requirements for the homeschool were met"

  

 

NC Homeschool Requirements

 

 

What are the requirements for homeschooling in North Carolina?  Article 39 of Chapter 115C of the North Carolina General Statutes states that NC homeschool requirements include:

  • Filing a Notice of Intent with the NCDNPE
  • Parents, legal guardians, or members of either household determine the scope and sequence of academic instruction, provide academic instruction, and determine additional sources of academic instruction.
  • Annual standardized testing
  • Maintain attendance and immunization records

 

 

This is exciting news.  According to the NCDNPE, the answer is that NC homeschool students can enroll in these programs and take classes for FREE without jeopardizing the status of their homeschool, so long as the other requirements for homeschooling in NC are met. 

 

In the next post, I will talk about why a homeschool might choose to enroll a student part-time in public school and take online classes.

 

In the meantime,  I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Talk back to me in the comments below!

 

 

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About the Author

An active voice in the home educating community since 2001, Doreen Browning has been called the Homeschool Nerd (TM). She is passionate about finding and sharing accurate information and resources with prospective, new, and established homeschoolers. Doreen homeschooled two sons from K-12, using an eclectic method. She is the founder and Executive Director of Enrich, Inc.