No GED—No Graduation?
- Michael Donnelly Director of International Affairs, HSLDA
- 2013 13 Feb
A homeschooler who attended college was told to take the GED or else he couldn’t graduate. Under tight time pressure because of GED testing dates, HSLDA’s legal team intervened to resolve the problem for James C.
After graduating from a Michigan homeschool, James C. attended a North Carolina college and was preparing to graduate. He was shocked when school administrators informed him that he would be required to take the GED in order to provide sufficient documentation of his high school “completion.”
A homeschool diploma, he was told, was simply “insufficient.” If he could not get the issue resolved he would not be permitted to graduate. His family wisely invested in HSLDA membership, and when James called us he spoke with Legal Assistant Gregory Escobar and Staff Attorney Michael Donnelly, HSLDA’s Michigan legal team for member affairs.
It is not at all uncommon for some colleges that are unfamiliar with homeschooling to question the validity of homeschool-issued diplomas. Generally, homeschoolers are able to answer these concerns by providing the school with a copy of the diploma, a notarized transcript, and evidence of compliance with state law. The diploma shows that the student met the graduation requirements of the homeschool, while the transcript shows what specific courses the student completed to earn the diploma. Finally, the evidence of compliance with state law shows that the homeschool was operating in accordance with the state requirements.
North Carolina’s homeschool law requires annual notification and assessment. However, James was homeschooled in Michigan, which has no notification or assessment requirement. Generally HSLDA asserts that homeschools operating in compliance with state law may issue legal and valid high school diplomas to any students who complete their school’s graduation requirements.
HSLDA contends that a GED is unnecessary. In some cases the GED credential carries a stigma that a person has not completed a high school-level education and is often associated with drop-outs. This can also result in confusion about the validity of the homeschool diploma itself.
Donnelly wrote to the college explaining the homeschooling requirement in Michigan and verifying James’s family’s compliance with the Michigan law. Donnelly reviewed federal guidelines with the college which recognize homeschool diplomas for federal financial aid eligibility and discourage colleges from discriminating against homeschool students.
With only 24 hours remaining before James was scheduled to take the GED, school officials reconsidered their decision to reject his homeschool diploma and transcript and accepted his documentation of high school completion. James would graduate without having to take the GED.
HSLDA is pleased to be able to assist members whose children are graduated from homeschooling. While colleges have the ultimate prerogative to admit a particular student, HSLDA has had many successes in persuading and informing colleges of both the legitimacy of home education and the incredible value that homeschoolers bring to their academic communities.
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If you or someone you know is not a member of HSLDA, will you consider taking a moment today to join or recommend us? Your support for our work enables us to defend individual families threatened by government officials and protect homeschooling freedom for all. Join now.
Staff Attorney Mike Donnelly protects homeschool freedom in Michigan. He and his wife homeschool.
Home School Legal Defense Association is a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms. Through annual memberships, HSLDA is tens of thousands of families united in service together, providing a strong voice when and where needed.
Publication date: February 13, 2013