Rhode Island Homeschooling Laws

This state requires parents to obtain prior permission to homeschool from the local school board and to meet that board’s requirements for the home school.

Reporting: Attendance records must be kept and submitted to the local school officials when requested. The number of days of attendance required is not specified, but must be equal to the public schools. (Find out for yourself.)

Compulsory Attendance: From ages 6 to 16

Required Subjects: Arithmetic, reading, writing, English skills, geography, U.S. and state history and government (in Gr 4), physical education, health and in high school, U.S. government and the Constitution.

Testing: An annual assessment can be required. However, the law provides that the parents can choose what type of assessment will be used.

State Organization(s):
Rhode Island Guild of Home Teachers (R.I.G.H.T.)
POB 432, Coventry RI 02816 – http://www.rihomeschool.com/

Letter To General Assembly for Rhode Island:

June 8, 2010
State of Rhode Island General Assembly
Smith Street
Providence, R.I. 02903
To The Members of the General Assembly of Rhode Island,
I am writing to you regarding House Bill No. 8067, Senate Bills 2928 and 2888 which involve raising the age of compulsory attendance to 18; mandating certain criteria for children to withdraw after they attain the age of 16 and prior to the age of eighteen (18); and the R.I. Senate’s request for general support for the Round Two Application for Race To The Top which has been submitted by the R.I. Department of Education. I respectfully request that the Honorable Members of the House of Representatives and Senate vote a resounding “NO” when voting on H-8607, S-2928, to repeal R.I.G.L. §16-19-1 and §16-67.1-3 in their entirety and to reconsider the R.I. General Assembly’s decision to pass S-2888 without holding a hearing for the following reasons. It is my sincere belief that these Bills/statutes are 1.) unconstitutional and unjust on their face; 2.) grant authority to the State which does not belong to it; 3.) demean the Citizens of Rhode Island; 4.) impose an overwhelming and burdensome expense on the Citizens of the Rhode Island; 5.) are contrary to the principles of dignity and the human rights of all.
The present and pertinent language of R.I.G.L. §16-19-1 mandates that “Every child who has completed or will have completed six (6) years of life on or before September 1 of any school year and has not completed sixteen (16) years of life” to regularly attend some public day school during all the days and hours that the public schools are in session in the city or town in which the child resides, The statute also mandates that “Every person having under his or her control a child as described in this section shall cause the child to attend school” and threatens that if the person does not comply, he/she “shall , upon conviction, be “imprisoned” or “fined.“ This statute has been modified in Bill No. 2928 and 8067 to raise the age to 18 and include language in adding Section (c) which specifically mandates that the child participate in an “alternative“ learning plan which is accepted and approved by the State.
In 2007, the “Rhode Island High School Dropout Prevention Act of 2007” was established in Title 16 Chapter 67.1 of the R.I. General Laws. R.I.G.L. § 16-67.1-3, presently provides in part, the definition of “the age and protocol for a student to leave school.” R.I.G.L. §16-67.1-3 denies the child the right to withdraw prior to the age of 18, unless a student’s parent(s)/guardian and a school administrator agree to the withdrawal . The language in §16-67.1-3 also requires that the withdrawal by the student is accompanied by:
“a written acknowledgement of a withdrawal under subdivision (2) of this subsection which must include a statement that the student and the student’s parent(s)/guardian understand that withdrawal from school is likely to reduce the student’s future earnings and increase the student’s likelihood of being unemployed in the future; (emph. added)
This language has been incorporated within the framework of H 8067 and S 2928, although it is modified as an alternative method of withdrawal.
Senate Bill 2888 was submitted for “Immediate consideration” on May 19, 2010, just nine (9) business days prior to the deadline of June 1, 2010, for R. I. Department of Education to submit its Race To The Top application. It was read and passed on the same date without a hearing. On Thursday, June 3, 2010, S-2888 was placed on the House Calendar and on Friday, June 4, 2010, it was passed in concurrence. three days after the RTTT application deadline. The language of the Bill claims that The State of Rhode Island’s “priorities” are closely aligned with the reforms proposed by the United States Department of Education: “college and career-ready standards and high quality assessments for all students; pre-K to higher education data systems; teacher effectiveness and equitable distribution of effective teachers; and intensive support and effective interventions for the lowest performing schools.”
Within the framework of the Race To the Top application, it is revealed that the clear intent is to establish a statewide “longitudinal data” system to track children from PRE K-20 to further build R.I.D.E’s ability to tie in Pre K-12 data with its Office of Higher Education, National Student Clearinghouse, and the Department of Labor “workforce” data, with the hope that student-level “data” can be better accessed “to better inform decisions” about improving post-high school outcomes. To support and ensure the implementation of this process, R.I.D.E. intends to establish “new partnerships and data sharing agreements with institutions of higher education, state agencies and private entities” and will create positions consisting of “national experts” and “outside consultants”
Funded by RTTT, R.I.D.E. will also “expand” its present partnership with Dana Center at University of Texas, Austin to participate in the training of Rhode Island educators. Dana Center will train to ensure that educators can access data through links in their “customized data dashboards that will lead them to a rich array of tools and instructional resources that teachers can use to match instructional strategies and interventions to specific gaps in student learning.” The Dana Center will support efforts to “align standards to curriculum and pedagogy through the process outlined by the Dana Center” and to Support LEA and “administrator efforts” to help the teachers “unpack the standards” with “Dana Center trained Intermediary Service Providers, etc.” “Through the Dana Center, Rhode Island will conduct universal training for educators to ensure they are able to study and understand the new standards to effectively integrate them into their daily instruction” and that they “will be trained in the creation and implementation of formative assessment that is authentic, embedded, and that tests true understanding.”
To further support the application process, Rhode Island is described as a “microcosm of the nation with considerable racial and socioeconomic diversity, [which] can serve as a laboratory for implementing state-wide education reform on a manageable scale.” (emph. added) Noted targets throughout the application are those children in “high-poverty” and “high-minority” areas, which are equated with “low” performance.
1.) R.I.G.L. §16-19-1 and R.I.G.L. §16-67.1-3, as they presently exist and Bills H 8067, S 2928 and S 2888 are unconstitutional and unjust on their face
R.I.G.L. §16-19-1 and R.I.G.L. §16-67.1-3 grant far-reaching authority to the State which resides in the parents alone, unless those rights have been taken away through due process of law.
In deciding,Troxel v. Granville; 530 U.S. 57;(2000), our United States Supreme Court made clear that “The liberty interest at issue in this case — the interest of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children — is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court.” The Supreme Court went on in support of its decision:

“…More than 75 years ago, in Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 399, 401 (1923), we held that the ‘liberty’ protected by the Due Process Clause includes the right of parents to ‘establish a home and bring up children” and “to control the education of their own.’ Two years later, in Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534- 535 (1925), we again held that the ‘liberty of parents and guardians’ includes the
right ‘to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control…‘We explained in Pierce that [t]he child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations. Id. at 535…
We returned to the subject in Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158 (1944), and again confirmed that there is a constitutional dimension to the right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children…It is cardinal with us that the custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for obligations the state can neither supply nor hinder. Id. at 166…In subsequent cases also, we have recognized the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children. See, e.g., Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645, 651(1972) (‘It is plain that the interest of a parent in the companionship, care, custody, and management of his or her children come[s] to this Court with a momentum for respect lacking when appeal is made to liberties which derive merely from shifting economic arrangements’ (citation omitted);
Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205, 232 (1972) (“The history and culture of Western civilization reflect a strong tradition of parental concern for the nurture
and upbringing of their children. This primary role of the parents in the upbringing of their children is now established beyond debate as an enduring American tradition”); Quilloin v. Walcott, 434 U.S. 246, 255 (1978) (‘We have recognized on numerous occasions that the relationship between parent and child is constitutionally protected‘); Parham v. J. R., 442 U.S. 584, 602 (1979) (‘Our jurisprudence historically has reflected Western civilization concepts of the family as a unit with broad parental authority over minor children. Our cases have consistently followed that course‘); Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 753 (1982) (discussing ‘[t]he fundamental liberty interest of natural parents in the care, custody, and management of their child‘); Glucksberg, supra, at 720 (‘In a long line of cases, we have held that, in addition to the specific freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights, the `liberty’ specially protected by the Due Process Clause includes the righ[t] . . . to direct the education and upbringing of one’s children” (citing Meyer and Pierce). In light of this extensive precedent, it cannot
Now be doubted that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
protects the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care,
custody, and control of their children.”
Consistent with The Fourteenth Amendment of The United States Constitution, Article I, Section 2 of the Rhode Island Constitution provides in pertinent part that:
No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied equal protection of the laws. No otherwise qualified person shall, solely by reason of race, gender or handicap be subject to diacrimination by the state, its agents or any person or entity doing business with the State.
Article I, Section 3 recognizes in pertinent part that human beings are born with the mind free, and that “all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by civil incapacitations, tend to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness;” Roger Williams, Founder of Rhode Island, author of The Bloody Tenant of Persecution for Cause of Conscience, and the inspiration for the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, was prosecuted for his “new and dangerous ideas” and believed in the person’s right to have the freedom to live by the dictates of their own conscience.
Article I, Section 4, prohibits slavery.
Guided by the principles of the United States Constitution, the Rhode Island Constitution and the Rulings of the United States Supreme Court as set forth in the preceding paragraphs, it is abundantly clear to me that these statutes are prima facie unconstitutional and unjust. These statutes deny R.I. Citizen that right and treat them as if they are subjects, not citizens of the State. The implications of S 2888 are far-reaching and the Constitutional rights of R.I. Citizens should not be ignored. The R.I. General Assembly should not further the unconstitutionality and injustice which these statutes exemplify, the statutes should be repealed in their entirety. S-2888 further should be subject to due process and set for hearing and reconsideration, neither of which occurred.
2.) The proposed Bills and existing statutes grant authority to the State which does not belong to it.
As referenced in the preceding paragraphs, the United States Supreme Court has made it clear that “In a long line of cases, we have held that, in addition to the specific freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights, the `liberty’ specially protected by the Due Process Clause includes the righ[t] . . . to direct the education and upbringing of one’s children,,, In light of this extensive precedent, it cannot now be doubted that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children.”
Although the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that ‘liberty’ specially protected by the Due Process Clause includes the right to direct the education and upbringing of one’s children, the State of Rhode Island continues to disregard its rulings and has taken on the parental role which does not belong to it. R.I.G.L. §16-19-1 was enacted in 1887, when women and children were still considered property. During the Industrial Revolution, children were moved from farming and home workshops to supply a “workforce” where they were used and abused and forced to accommodate the corporate mill owners. Children and adults were denied basic human needs, never mind the freedom and resources to obtain an education in the formal sense. Despite efforts by some to protect children, parents continued to be pressed to send the children to work in the mills for economic reasons until labor and child protection laws were enacted. Those laws remain in place at this time.
The opportunity to receive a free public education has been in place for more than one hundred years. Parents are no longer forced, along with their children, to work in mills or denied an opportunity to receive public education. Parents and children have access to public education if they so choose. In fact, the State of Rhode Island is rich in history and its Citizens have access to a wealth of resources, such as public libraries, public transportation and community organizations, in a truly unique intimate and familial setting. If a teenager chooses at the age of sixteen (16) to leave the public education system to move on with their life with parental consent, they should have every right to do so without the burdens of archaic statutes which are unconstitutional and oppressive in nature. It is parents who are charged with the responsibility to make these decisions, not the State. Parents and their children who are Citizens of the State of Rhode Island should not be treated as subjects or assumed to be uneducated and ignorant without public education. If the State truly views its citizens in such a light, the State can only fault itself and its agents for failing the parents and children for the century that public education has been in existence in Rhode Island.
3.) These existing statutes and proposed Bills demean Citizens and children of the State of Rhode Island.
Despite the factual realities which are set forth in the preceding paragraphs, the State of Rhode Island has continued to compel children to attend school, and has engaged in duress and coercion via threats of imprisonment, fines, truant officers – and requirements to sign degrading statements that they understand that if they choose to leave the public school at age 16, they are likely to fail – to enforce these unconstitutional and demeaning mandates. R.I.G.L. §16-19-1(c) further insults the Citizens of the State and the authority of the parent and the child. Rather than preserve and protect the rights of the Citizens of the State of Rhode Island, which they are Constitutionally bound to do, the R.I. General Assembly stomped on the rights of its Citizens in enacting R.I.G.L. §16-19-1(c) to ensure the protection of “the rights of teachers and other school employees to collectively bargain…” (emph. added)
Notwithstanding these unconstitutional, unjust statutory mandates which have already been placed upon the Citizens, the R.I. General Assembly recently passed S 2888 without a hearing. S 2888 presents that the Assembly supports the Round Two Race To The Top Application, in part in an effort “to save and create jobs and to reform education, drive results for students, increase capacity, accelerate reform, and foster continuous improvement.” (emph. added)
The author of the Race To The Top application erroneously claims that “The citizens of Rhode Island are dedicated to every action in this application, and we are committed to seeing these proposals through and transforming education in our state.” (emph. added) First, the language used in the Race To The Top application to describe Rhode Island as a “microcosm of the nation” which “can “serve as a laboratory” is offensive to many Citizens of the State. As a Citizen of this State, I do sincerely believe that many of us would concur that it is inappropriate for Rhode Island to serve as a “laboratory” for any reason. For Commissioner Gist to state that Rhode Islanders are “dedicated to every action in the application” is quite misleading, since its Citizens were denied access to the application prior to its initial submission.
This event led to much confusion and a tremendous amount of tension between the Commissioner and Teachers’ Unions. Further tension arose when the Commissioner threatened to fire a number of teachers at Central Falls High School, one of the schools which had been targeted throughout the RTTT application. The publicity caused much embarrassment for the State of Rhode Island, not only to the teachers, but to the young Rhode Islanders attending Central Falls High School and the population at large. Are these men and women so inadequate? If these men and women are unqualified to be educators of our most precious resource, then why are we being forced to support the Commissioner’s agenda to obtain millions of dollars (in credit) to support individuals who are already paid well and she apparently perceives as inadequate, incompetent, and in need of being re-educated?.
Presently, Rhode Island Teachers are listed in the top five highest salary averages in our nation. Since the time of desegregation and busing, children have had access to certified teachers who are well compensated. While a single Rhode Island teacher is reported to have a median income of approximately $56,494 and $56,432, the median income of a Rhode Islander stands at $46,466. The Statewide average is substantially less than that of those who have been entrusted to “educate” the population, and further less than the salary of $203,870 received by the Commissioner of Education, who was recently reported as finding it necessary to hire a ghostwriter for $10,000.00 to write a speech.
Further embarrassment for many Citizens of Rhode Island ensued when, during a public interview in support of the RTTT application, Commissioner Gist was referenced by the Providence Phoenix as stating that “we can no longer wait for better parents or the end of poverty.“ As a life-long Citizen of the State of Rhode Island, a student of both (inner-city) public and private schools, and parent of four successful and intelligent young adult children, I take exception to this remark. Is this what Rhode Island Citizens have been reduced to? Are we viewed as less than better parents? If the R.I. General Assembly adheres to Ms. Gist’s assessment of Rhode Island parents, please remember that Rhode Island Parents are products of the Rhode Island Education system, which has been generously funded with millions of dollars over the course of many years. It is ironic that throughout the RTTT application, children in poverty or minority, are equated with “low“ performance to justify obtaining more money when millions of dollars have already been poured into the well-paid educators who these children have been entrusted to.
There is something amiss when statutes are enacted to coerce a parent and child into stating that they will likely be unemployed or receive fewer wages if he or she chooses to withdraw from this well-funded failing system. The information set forth in the previous paragraphs should be a good indicator to all that more money does not create quality teachers. Neither the Citizens of this State nor their children should be compelled to participate in attendance or to become further enslaved as subjects and indebted financially to support the few who will benefit from the failure of the system.
Texas Governor Rick Perry recently stated in a press release that “Texas is on the right path toward improved education, and we would be foolish and irresponsible to place our children’s future in the hands of unelected bureaucrats and special interest groups thousands of miles away in Washington, virtually eliminating parents’ participation in their children’s education.”
4.) These Bills/statutes impose an overwhelming and burdensome expense on the Citizens of the State.
Notwithstanding the unconstitutionality, the injustice and the insults, we, the Citizens, are being burdened by the expense of these statutes. The monetary support is not going to fall from the sky. There is no pie left.
First, if parents choose to send their children to a private school, educate them in their own time and space, or to send them to public school, that decision resides in the parent. When the State imposes itself on the parent and mandates that every child attend some public school, it places a huge burden on its Citizens, who do not need to be financially burdened with the responsibility of the cost of those who do not participate in the system. Most of the population utilizes the public school education and all the Citizen taxpayers are responsible. For those who do not choose public education, the cost and burden on the taxpayer for that child would be removed altogether. It would also lift some of the burden on the parents as taxpayers by reducing their taxes to some degree and grant them the opportunity to place more of their personal funds into their own pocket and reinvest either in private school education or other educational resources that they might like to utilize for their own children, while reducing the tax burden on the population.
Secondly, when addressing the issue of young people between the ages of sixteen and eighteen who choose to leave the public institution for reasons of their own and of their parents, the State, as previously stated, should not interfere. If the young person has no desire to be involved in institutionalization in the name of education, common sense reveals that other issues which would otherwise not exist will likely arise, and cause more financial burdens on the taxpayer. The State assumes too much responsibility which is not its own.
Thirdly, although the R.I. Department of Education’s campaign to support the RTTT application purports to potentially bring in millions of dollars to support “education” reform, the RTTT application reveals that the funding will support “robust human resources” and secure employment for “national experts,” outside consultants; training from The Dana Center, a Texas institution, to ensure the re-education of Rhode Island teachers; and will implement a longitudinal “data system” to track the information of every child from PRE-K to 20 and share that information with private entities, State agencies (including, but not limited to R.I. Dept. of Health, R.I. Dept. of Children, Youth and Families), National Student Clearinghouse, R.I. Dept. of Labor and R.I. Dept. of Higher Education. As presented, there appears to be no nexus between the RTTT funding and true educational reform which would benefit the children of Rhode Island.
From this very basic standpoint, the RTTT application reveals the over-reaching encroachment by the State on children and their families, which will likely be a very expensive one. The potential for litigation to sort out these issues because of the violative and invasive nature of the implementation of such a proposal is ominous. The massive indebtedness which the ARRA Funding for this proposed project is far-reaching into the pockets of the unborn and will likely be devastating to the financial well-being of the State. The RTTT application gives rise to many more questions, none of which have been answered by either the R.I. Department of Education or of the R.I. General Assembly.
The state of Rhode Island is financially unhealthy at the present time. With the five largest employers of the State of Rhode Island being the R.I. State Government, Lifespan, the U. S. Government, Care New England, and the Roman Catholic “Diocese” of Providence, all tax-exempt, coupled with the large education, religious, health, government and other non-profit tax-exempt status institutions, there are few employers, small businesses and/or independently wealthy Citizens in the State who are able to carry the heavy financial burden of this very large financial endeavor for the sake of a few. We cannot afford to create massive debt for the children, who are the future of Rhode Island and the true “stakeholders.”
5.) These statutes are contrary to the principles of dignity and the human rights of all.
Citizens of Rhode Island are human beings who are charged with the responsibility to direct their own destiny and that of their minor children. They are not “mere creatures of the State.” Some individuals may believe otherwise, like those during the time of Susan B. Anthony, who chose to exercise her citizenship and vote in the Presidential election of 1872, that “Citizenship no more carries the right to vote that it carries the power to fly to the moon.” and that those who choose to exercise that citizenship “should be challenged…and they should all be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.” (Rochester Union and Advertiser editorial, November 4 edition) To those who believe it, this I have to say while echoing the sentiments of Susan B. Anthony at her sentencing: “I have many things to say…you have trampled under foot every vital principle of our government. My natural rights, my civil rights, my political rights, my judicial rights, are all alike ignored. Robbed of the fundamental privilege of citizenship, I am degraded from the status of a citizen to that of a subject; not only to my self, but…” in the instant circumstance, to all citizens of the State of Rhode Island, who are “doomed to political subjection under this, so-called, form of government.” (Sentencing Of Susan B. Anthony, 1873)
The age-old practice of exploiting children and the enslavement of human beings are forbidden regardless of race or socio-economic status. Article I, Section I, provides that “In the words of the Father of his Country, we declare that ‘the basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and alter their constitutions of government; but that the constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all.’” The R.I. General Assembly, the State of Rhode Island and its agents are not exempted from this sacred obligation.
In closing, what takes place between parent and child is a Constitutionally protected relationship and the State and its agents do not have any authority to insert themselves or to allow the exploitation of its Citizens in the name of Race To The Top “funding” and education “reform.” The State’s imposition is beyond its authority, fundamentally unconstitutional, unjust and expensive beyond any monetary value. I am respectfully requesting that the Senate and House of Representatives vote NO on House Bill No. 8067 and Senate Bill No. 2398, repeal R.I.G.L. § 16-19-1 and R.I.G.L. §16-67.1-3 in their entirety, and to reconsider the decision of the R.I. General Assembly to pass Bill No. 2888 without having afforded the Citizens of Rhode Island due process of law.
Mary Ryan.
544 Victory Highway
Mapleville, R.I. 02839