Hawaii law excuses a child from public or private school attendance when “notification of intent to home school has been submitted to the principal of the public school that the child would otherwise be required to attend in accordance with department rules adopted to achieve this result.” See Haw. Rev. Stat. § 302A-1132(a)(5). “‘Home schooling’ means a viable educational option where a parent instructs the parent’s own child.” For department rules, see Haw. Admin. R. §§ 8-12-1 to 8-12-22.
Parents must submit a notice of intent to the local public school principle before beginning to homeschool, and when the child transfers to another school (i.e. between elementary and middle school, between middle school and high school, and when moving). This notice should consist of either Form 4140 (Exemptions to Compulsory Education) or a letter containing the child’s name, address, telephone number, date of birth, and grade level, as well as the parent’s signature. The notice of intent will be acknowledged by the principal and district superintendent, and should be maintained for record keeping purposes and for presenting as a defense against truancy charges. The parent must also notify the principal when ceasing to homeschool. See Haw. Admin. R. §§ 8-12-13 and 8-12-16.
The curriculum provided must be “structured and based on educational objectives as well as the needs of the child, be cumulative and sequential, provide a range of up-to-date knowledge and needed skills, and take into account the interests, needs and abilities of the child.” At the elementary level, the curriculum “may include” language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, art, music, health and physical education to be offered at the appropriate development stage of the child. At the secondary level, the curriculum “may include” social studies, English, mathematics, science, health, physical education and guidance. See Haw. Admin. R. § 8-12-15.
Parents must maintain “a record of the planned curriculum for each child.” “The record of the planned curriculum should include the following: (1) The commencement date and ending date of the program; (2) A record of the number of hours per week the child spends in instruction; (3) The subject areas to be covered in the planned curriculum; (4) The method used to determine mastery of materials and subjects in the curriculum; and (5) A list of textbooks or other instructional materials which will be used.” See Haw. Admin. R. § 8-12-15.
(1) At the end of 3rd, 5th, 8th, and 10th grades, homeschooled children must either participate in the Statewide Testing Program at their local public school or participate in comparable private testing at the parent’s expense or participate in some other means of evaluation approved by the principal. This is to meet the requirements of the Statewide Testing Program. See Haw. Admin. R. § 8-12-18(a). (2) “The parent shall submit to the principal an annual report of a child’s progress.” There are four options: (a) a score at grade level on a nationally-normed standardized achievement test; (b) one grade level of progress on a nationally-normed standardized achievement test over the previous calendar year; (c) a written evaluation by a state certified teacher demonstrating either appropriate grade level achievement or significant annual advancement commensurate with a child’s abilities”; or (d) a written evaluation by the parent including a description of the child’s progress in each subject area, representative samples of the child’s work, and representative tests and assignments. See Haw. Admin. R. § 8-12-18(b). If the child participates in the tests administered under the Statewide Testing Program after 3rd, 5th, 8th, or 10th grade, those scores may be used to satisfy options (a) or (b) for the progress reports for those years. See Haw. Admin. R. § 8-12-18(c).
The principal shall review the child’s annual progress report to determine the adequacy of a child’s progress. In the case of standardized tests, “adequate progress shall be considered to be score/stanines in the upper two thirds of the score/stanines.” If the child’s progress is not adequate, “the principal shall meet with the parent to discuss the problems and help establish a plan for improvement.” The principal may request and the parents must provide the record of the child’s planned curriculum.”Unless progress is inadequate for two consecutive semesters, based on a child’s scores on a norm-referenced test for that grade level or the written evaluation by a person certified to teach in the State of Hawaii, recommendations to enroll the child in a public or private school or to take legal action for educational neglect shall be prohibited. No recommendations shall be made for a child before the third grade.”See Haw. Admin. R. § 8-12-18(d).
The Hawaii High School Athletic Association (HHSAA) requires student athletes to be enrolled in the public school for which they compete. See HHSAA Eligibility Rules.
“All educational and related services statutorily mandated shall be made available at the home public school site to home-schooled children who have been evaluated and certified as needing educational and related services and who request the services.” See Haw. Admin. R. § 8-12-14.
When enrolling in a public high school, homeschool students may not be awarded credits for time spent homeschooled. A homeschooled child who wants to earn a high school diploma from the local public high school must attend that high school for three full years and meet the credit requirements for graduation. See Haw. Admin. R. §§ 8-12-20 and 8-12-21.
Hawaii’s compulsory attendance law has always included an exemption for children being taught by a private tutor at home. In 1980 the state legislature replaced its existing private tutor law with statutes outlining “alternative educational programs.” These programs required students to participate in the Statewide Testing Program in their local schools and required parents to have bachelor’s degrees or hire a qualified tutor. In 1989, the state legislature created a new, less restrictive “home school” option, which forms the basis of the state’s homeschool law today.
This overview is for informational purposes only and does not constitute the giving of legal advice. Page last updated April 2023.