Graduation from high school should be a time for celebration, relishing the traditional pomp and circumstance that comes along with it. Homeschool families of high school senior students wishing to celebrate this great accomplishment are left with unclear guidelines given the state’s new normal pushing forward. For Texas homeschool group leaders who are considering holding a graduation, how do they know what guidelines they should follow?
We now know there is a question of what is legal and a separate question of what is wise. Since everyone is on high alert right now due to COVID-19, even if your homeschool group event is totally legal, it might come under scrutiny from local officials who disagree. For that reason, it is probably best for a group to take the safest route if they want to avoid a risk of confrontation with local authorities. Even if the group might win that confrontation, it may not be a risk they want to take.
The Leadership Support Team has received questions about graduations from many homeschool group leaders and wanted to address these questions here. This should not be considered legal advice. Groups considering hosting graduation and seeking to ensure they are in compliance with executive orders issued by Governor Abbott should seek local legal counsel.
Homeschools are considered private schools in Texas, yet Gov. Abbott’s orders do not specifically mention private school graduations. Limited references to private schools at all makes it unclear whether the graduation restrictions are supposed to apply to private schools. The safer interpretation is that these restrictions do apply to private schools. Supposing they do, how the rules apply to a homeschool group or co-op is also unclear.
Co-ops may or may not be considered a private school. Determining whether a group or co-op could be considered a private school can be somewhat complex and may never be entirely clear based on how Texas law is worded. In this situation, it is safest to assume that the graduation event should be treated as if it is being put on by a private school.
It is important to be aware that local officials likely won’t see a practical distinction because everyone is already on high alert. Even if those officials are wrong, it could still mean a confrontation with local authorities and a subsequent battle to determine who is right.
The safest course of action is for a homeschool group or co-op to assume that it needs to comply with the restrictions outlined by the TEA. An outdoor graduation event may be the simplest solution, in that case. The co-op could also participate in a virtual graduation ceremony or choose to delay the graduation entirely.
Regarding groups that choose to go forward with a graduation that doesn’t match the TEA requirements, we strongly suggest that your group consult legal counsel regarding how to set that up and have them on hand in case you end up in a sticky situation with local authorities. We hope this will help group leaders as you navigate the best way to commemorate this important time of year for seniors.
Sources for this section:
- Governor Abbott issues Executive Order regarding expanded business activities
- TEA graduation ceremony information
Did you know that one part of the mission of THSC is to educate and support homeschool leadership at all levels in the state? If you lead a homeschool group in Texas, I hope you have partnered with THSC. If not, please check out the benefits of partnership.
Hint: A favorite benefit of many group leaders is the group discount code. We give you a discount code to share with your member families to save $20 on their annual THSC membership! This can be used as a great incentive for homeschool families to join YOUR group!
Thank you for being an integral part of keeping homeschoolers connected across Texas!
The information on THSC.org or in links provided by this website or by THSC staff are not to be misconstrued as legal advice or a recommendation regarding any of the legal issues or problems described herein.
We do offer intervention services for homeschool families in order to help families when they encounter organizations that limit access or participation simply because a child is homeschooled. This intervention is a THSC member benefit, and is not part of the THSC Partner Group Program.
While THSC can give you pointers on how to construct the bylaws for your THSC Partner Group, we cannot give legal advice on the final wording and its legal effect. Furthermore, THSC does not assist in resolving group conflict or involve itself in ongoing issues within THSC Partner Groups. Groups seeking legal advice on the application of their bylaws in a particular situation should seek assistance from an attorney.