Help Defeat South Dakota SB 177

Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota has pushed a bill through the state senate which strips out every protection for homeschooled children that currently exists in her state. While proponents are marketing it under the guise of “parental choice,” what it really does is leave homeschooled children vulnerable and opens the door for abusers to exploit the homeschooling statute.

Note: Committee member contact information and a potential call script can be found at the bottom of this page, or click here to go directly there.

Changes SB 177 would make to South Dakota § 13-27-3:

  • Removes compulsory education. Homeschooled children will no longer need to be educated until they complete a GED course or reach the age of 18. Home educators would be able to legally stop education at any point they feel like quitting – for example, if they felt that women’s education should not be on par with men’s.
  • The person providing instruction would only need to file a one-time notification, and it is unclear where they would need to send this notification. This bill also forces the Department of Education or local school boards to automatically rubber-stamp every notification—if the parent is withdrawing their child from school because teachers are reporting abuse or because their child is chronically truant, it doesn’t matter. No one would be able to stop it before it’s too late.
  • Home educators would no longer need to maintain records. They would no longer need to create or maintain things like transcripts, assessment records, attendance records, or birth certificates. This open the door to identification abuse—American citizens, like Faith Pennington, being unable to prove their legal citizenship, attend college, or be gainfully employed. Right now in South Dakota, the student’s local school district maintains a record of their assessments and enrollment—but if SB 177 passes, this protection would disappear. If the home educator does not create a transcript, or refuses to provide the transcript, a homeschooled graduate will have no recourse to prove their good academic standing.
  • Removes the assessment provisions. At the moment, South Dakota is one of the best states in the country when it comes to protecting a homeschooled child’s right to an education—they’re in the top ten, in fact. Not only do all students in the state need to be assessed under current law, but it is possible for someone to notice and intervene if educational neglect is occurring. While CRHE recommends portfolio reviews instead of standardized testing as a primary assessment tool, SB 177 removes the requirement for assessments of any kind entirely.
  • Changes how truancy is reported and pursued. While homeschooled children would no longer be subject to any kind of truancy laws—they would no longer have to experience an “equivalent” amount of time in school at any point in their education, since SB 177 would remove compulsory education—this bill also has implications for truancy cases in the public school system. At CRHE, we have encountered many school districts using loopholes like these to pad their graduation rates; instead of refusing to graduate a failing student or helping overcome chronic truancy issues, they force families to “homeschool” their children regardless of whether or not they want to or are logistically capable of doing so.

Ordinarily, SB 177 would now be heard in the House Education Committee, where any bill regarding education belongs. However, Governor Noem and the Speaker Gosch both know their colleagues on the Education Committee would never recommend a bill that would decimate children’s right to an education in South Dakota – so they’ve placed the bill in State Affairs instead, where it’s virtually guaranteed to pass on to a floor vote.

We need you to help defeat this bill. The hearing for SB 177 in the State Affairs Committee will be on Monday morning, March 1, at 7:00 am CST.

If you were homeschooled in South Dakota or are currently a South Dakota resident, and would be interested in testifying, please contact our Government Relations Director, Samantha Field, at

If you cannot testify, but would still like to do what you can, you can find the contact information for the State Affairs Committee members below. Please let these representatives know how much you care about South Dakota’s children.

Potential script:

“Hello, my name is [Your Name], and I was [homeschooled in/live in] [county name/district number]. I am very concerned about Senate Bill 177, as it removes all protections for many of South Dakota’s children.

Abusers who are trying to remove their victims from compassionate care, people who struggle with chronic truancy, and people who don’t want to educate their children will all be able to use SB 177 as a loophole. Please don’t allow South Dakota’s children to fall through the cracks. Please vote “no” on Senate Bill 177. Thank you, and have a wonderful day.”

South Dakota State Affairs Committee contacts

South Dakota State Affairs Committee ContactsPhoneEmailDistrict
SD Rep. David Anderson605-310-1645David.Anderson@sdlegislature.gov16
SD Rep. Arch Beal605-336-3034Arch.Beal@sdlegislature.gov12
SD Rep. Kirk Chaffee605-490-8616Kirk.Chaffee@sdlegislature.gov29
SD Rep. Tim Goodwin605-390-5324Tim.Goodwin@sdlegislature.gov30
Speaker Spencer Gosch605-230-0313Spencer.Gosch@sdlegislature.gov23
SD Rep. Jon Hansen605-610-8063Jon.Hansen@sdlegislature.gov25
SD Rep. Kevin Jensen605-336-6947Kevin.Jensen@sdlegislature.gov16
SD Rep. Chris JohnsonChris.Johnson@sdlegislature.gov32
SD Rep. Oren Lesmeister605-964-3023Oren.Lesmeister@sdlegislature.gov28A
SD Rep. Kent Peterson605-425-3299Kent.Peterson@sdlegislature.gov19
SD Rep. Rebecca Reimer605-220-8708Rebecca.Reimer@sdlegislature.gov26B
SD Rep. Jamie Smith605-351-4733Jamie.Smith@sdlegislature.gov15
SD Rep. Marli Wiese605-270-0786Marli.Wiese@sdlegislature.gov8
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