Notification is voluntary. Parents removing their children from public school to homeschool them are recommended to notify the school, but this is not mandatory. The Illinois State Board of Education has a one-page form on their website that parents can print off, fill in, and turn in to their regional superintendent or the State Board of Education, but this is voluntary.
Homeschooled children must be “taught the branches of education taught to children of corresponding age and grade in the public schools.” These subjects should generally include language arts, mathematics, biological and physical sciences, social sciences, fine arts, and physical development and health. Instruction must be in English. According to the Illinois State Board of Education, there are “no specific classes that are required for homeschool students. Parents “can decide to require or not require specific courses in the above subjects, such as chemistry, Algebra 2, civics, etc.”
The Department of Child & Family Services has no authority to investigate truancy or educational neglect. The authority to investigate homeschools that do not meet the state’s requirements falls to the elected regional superintendents of education. In the absence of assessment mechanisms, investigation only takes place in response to a complaint to the local Illinois Regional Office of Education or Intermediate Service Center. Should the regional superintendent find sufficient evidence to justify further investigation, he or she will contact the state’s attorney of the county within which the homeschool is located. The state’s attorney may obtain a search warrant and visit the home to ascertain whether the homeschool meets all requirements, and bring charges should it not.
Homeschooled students are permitted to enroll in individual public school classes that are part of the regular education program, provided space allows. See 105 ILCS 5/10-20.24. The request to attend must be made by May 1 of the previous school year and the child must live within the attendance zone of the public school. See Illinois State Board of Education.
The bylaws of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) require that every student participating in interscholastic athletics must be enrolled in and attend the school where they play. This requirement severely limits homeschool participation in high school athletics.
Homeschooled students with disabilities have access to testing in their local public schools, and may also have access to services offered through these schools. In addition, Illinois law requires public schools to accept homeschool children with disabilities for part-time enrollment. See 105 ILCS 5/14-6.01.
The legality of homeschooling today rests on People v. Levisen (1950). In that decision, the Supreme Court of Illinois stated that homeschools should be allowed to operate as private schools, provided they followed the state’s requirements for such schools. This case was later followed by Scoma v. Chicago Board of Education (1974) which ruled that homeschool parents must provide an education that is equivalent to the standards set by public schools and that homeschool parents must be able to show that they are providing the required plan of instruction. Over the years, Illinois legislatures and education officials have proposed laws to create more thorough oversight of homeschooling in the state, but none has passed.
For more, see A History of Homeschooling in Illinois.
This overview is for informational purposes only and does not constitute the giving of legal advice. Page last updated April 2023.