“A parent, guardian or other person in this state having charge, control, or custody of a child between the ages of seven years of age and the compulsory attendance age for the district shall cause the child to attend regularly some public, private, parochial, parish, home school or a combination of such schools.” See Mo. Ann. Stat. § 167.031.1. “A ‘home school’ is a school . . . that has as its primary purpose the provision of private or religious-based instruction; enrolls pupils . . . of which no more than four are unrelated . . . and does not charge or receive consideration in the form of tuition.” See Mo. Ann. Stat. § 167.031.2. For the entire relevant statute, see Mo. Ann. Stat. § 167.031.1 through § 167.031.7.
Parents are required to provide 1,000 hours of instruction each year. At least 600 of those hours must be in the five reading, math, social studies, language arts, and science, and at least 400 of those 600 must occur “at the regular home school location.” See Mo. Ann. Stat. § 167.031.2(2)(b).
Parents must provide at least 1,000 hours of instruction per year overall, and at least 600 hours of instruction per year in reading, math, social studies, language arts, and science that are related to the aforementioned subject areas and consonant with the pupil’s age and ability. At least four hundred of the six hundred hours shall occur at the regular home school location. See Mo. Ann. Stat. § 167.031.2(2)(b). However, this requirement does not apply to children above the age of 16.
Parents must maintain “a plan book, diary, or other written record indicating subjects taught and activities engaged in; and a portfolio of samples of the child’s academic progress; or other written, or credible evidence equivalent.” See Mo. Ann. Stat. § 167.031.2(2)(a). However, this requirement does not apply to children above the age of 16.
Educational neglect is the failure by the person responsible for the care, custody, and control of the child to provide an appropriate education and to promote school attendance as required by Missouri Law. Social services investigates reports of educational neglect. If the investigation involves allegations of a violation of the state’s homeschool law, “the local office of the division shall send the report to the school district in which the child resides” and “the school district shall immediately refer all private, parochial, parish or home school matters to the prosecuting attorney of the county wherein the child legally resides.” See Mo. Ann. Stat. § 210.167. State statute stipulates that the records outlined in the bookkeeping section of the homeschool law “shall be subject to review only by the local prosecuting attorney.” See Mo. Ann. Stat. § 167.031.7. Should a family face prosecution, “the production by a parent of a daily log showing that a home school has a course of instruction which satisfies the requirements of this section . . . shall be a defense to any prosecution under this section and to any charge or action for educational neglect.” See Mo. Ann. Stat. § 167.031.5.
For students who are above the age of 16, parents no longer need to follow the hours of instruction or bookkeeping requirements. See Mo. Ann. Stat. § 167.031.2(3). However, compulsory attendance, and thus enrollment in a homeschool, continues until a student turns 17 or completes sixteen credits toward high school graduation. See Mo. Ann. Stat. § 167.031.6. For students who are over the age of 16 and attended a metropolitan school district the year before a letter stating that the student is being homeschooled in compliance with the law should be produced as a defense against prosecution. See Mo. Ann. Stat. § 167.031.5.
Missouri’s homeschool statute was passed after a 1985 federal court decision, Ellis v. O’Hara. That decision found that the former law, which required homeschools to provide instruction “at least substantially equivalent” to that in public schools, “yields an unacceptable amount of discretion to officials charged with enforcement.” The court held the statute “unconstitutionally vague.”
This overview is for informational purposes only and does not constitute the giving of legal advice. Page last updated April 2023.