How do the ESA (Education Savings Account) Bills Affect Louisiana Homeschoolers?
The short answer, they do not, as currently written and amended, apply to homeschoolers. Our legislature is attempting to create another educational option for Louisiana families. School Choice has been a hot topic across the nation and states have been adopting and expanding ESAs.
As the topic became a reality for Louisiana, we consulted with authors of the bills and HSLDA to ensure homeschool freedoms in our state would not be jeopardized. We also realize that the more options for education a parent has, the better.
While we firmly believe, as we always have, that homeschooling MUST remain parent directed and parent funded; we also know that not all families in our great state have the means to homeschool.
Homeschool Louisiana is neutral on the ESA topic – we are not advocating for this funding nor are we opposing it. The way the bills in LA have been written clearly lay out the fact that any student eligible for the ESA program will be considered enrolled in a day school and thus satisfy the compulsory education laws of our state which mandate that all students ages 5-18 (or graduated) must be enrolled in school. (LA Revised Statute 17:236).
Concerning the ESA bills (HBs 33, 194, 227, 452, 824, 838) on April 6, 2022, the following bills were considered and amended – HBs 33, 194, 452, 824.
Amendment 3 states: “Solely for purposes of compulsory attendance in a nonpublic school, a child shall be 28 considered in attendance at a day school if the child is eligible to participate in the 29 Education Savings Account Program pursuant to R.S. 17:4037.4 and the child’s 30 parent has signed an agreement pursuant to R.S. 17:4037.4(A)(3).”
When reading legislation, any underlined text is an ADDITION to current law, any text that is struck through is removed from current law.
The text prior to the underlined portion of Amendment 3 is the current law of LARS 17:236 as listed above, which details what is considered a day school.
Parents who apply for the ESA Program, have an eligible student, sign the application and agree to the terms laid out by the program will satisfy compulsory education law.
If these bills become law parents will have many options when it comes to ensuring their children are educated.
Online Public School
NonPublic Not Seeking State Approval
A parent choosing the ESA Program would NOT notify the state as NonPublic Not Seeking State Approval nor would they fill out a HomeStudy application. Though a parent may choose to use ESA Program funds to purchase supplies and curriculum rather than enroll in a private school, and thus schooling in their home, they are not homeschoolers any more than a parent choosing to use UVA or another public online charter school are homeschoolers.
I hope that parents utilizing ESAs are welcomed by homeschoolers and that we are clear to outline the freedoms we have as homeschoolers and hopefully, they will want to enjoy the same freedoms we enjoy!