State Laws: Alaska

by Jacquelyn Makinen

Read the text of the actual statute HERE.

There are four legal options for homeschooling according to these statutes, and from here on out they will be referred to by their corresponding numbers: Option 1 – just teach your children at home; Option 2 – tutoring by a state-certified teacher; Option 3 – homeschooling with school board approval; Option 4 – filing as an exempt private school. The author of this article only has personal experience with Options 1 and 4, and she was unable to locate anyone who has utilized Options 2 or 3, so no information is available for those options.  

The state of Alaska only requires that parents direct the education of a child under any one of the homeschool options. The state has no other requirements of parents other than legal custody of the child/ren. Parents do not have to have graduated high school to be able to teach their children.

Under Option 1, parents just teach their children; there is zero paperwork.

Under Option 4, an exempt private school, parents must submit an Affidavit of Compliance and a corporal punishment policy. The Affidavit of Compliance is required upon establishment of the school and must be notarized.  It will remain on file with the Department of Education and Early Development (DEED).  This form verifies that the school administrators (the parents) maintain permanent records for enrolled students of immunization, physical examinations, standardized testing, academic achievement, and courses taken.  The Affidavit of Compliance is required only in the initial year of establishing the school, and the corporal punishment policy, which each private school must adopt in writing, only needs to be filed with DEED once. And subsequent revisions are to be included in each year’s Enrollment Report.

Annual paperwork under Option 4 includes submitting a school calendar that shows 180 days of school operation (this includes any “teacher work days” where the school is in operation, but students are not attending) and an Enrollment Report.  The Enrollment Report is an annual report of the number of students enrolled in each grade on October 1 and must be submitted to DEED by October 15 of each school year. This form includes a yes/no check box asking if all of the students enrolled are immediate family. Checking “yes” signifies that one is homeschooling and alerts DEED that inspections are not necessary. This form also reminds parents that home schooling in Alaska no longer requires paperwork, so these steps are all optional.

Parents under Option 4 are also required to submit to the superintendent of their local school district an Enrollment Reporting Form. This form is required for each private school child.  The form shall be signed by the parent or guardian and the Chief Administrative Officer.  This form is not sent to DEED; it is to be filed only with the local school district superintendent.  Registration of immunization records are to be submitted annually by November 15 to the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS).  These records are also required to be on file at the school site.  The forms are now online, so, after filling in the students’ information, the online program will generate the reports for all reportable grades (only certain grades – such as Grade 11 for high school) and the school as a whole. Parents just mail the appropriate ones to DHSS.

A side note for filing as an exempt private school: Nowhere does the law state that parents must file for all grades. For example, if one so chooses, you may file only as a private high school offering instruction for Grades 9 through 12. Filing as a private school is just an option; by law, parents don’t have to file at all.

The compulsory education statute applies to all children between the ages of 7 and 16. Preschool, kindergarten, and first grade are not required prior to the age of 7. And a 17-year-old has the option of finishing a high school course of study and graduating or obtaining a GED. Compulsory attendance only applies to a 17-year-old or an 18-year-old if s/he continues in an educational program or setting with the intention to graduate from that program or setting.

With homeschooling under Option 1, there is zero oversight. When utilizing Option 4, there is no oversight requirements outside of the annual reporting to DEED, DHSS, and the local school district superintendent.


Option 1 has zero subject requirements. Parents determine the subject requirements for their homeschool. Option 4 does not have any subject requirements either, but, as a private school, having comparable subject requirements to those in the public schools is highly encouraged. DEED does not regulate private schools, but other entities (such as the Alaska Performance Scholarship and the Alaska School Activities Association) look to private schools to be equal to or better than the local public schools.

For Option 1, no requirements exist. Parents are free to “conduct school” how and when they deem appropriate. Under Option 4, parents are required to have school occur at least 170 days out of a year, but no statutory regulations exist regarding how much time each day. While not written in statute, submitting the annual school calendar illustrates to DEED that parents intend to conduct educational activities for the duration of their “school year.”

Similar to subject and time requirements, under Option 1 parents determine their homeschool’s graduation requirements. Many families choose to copy the state’s requirements for public schools. Other families utilize college admissions requirements from two or three universities or technical schools that a child is interested in attending. Still other families balance the requirements of military enlistment with college to create their own, personalized graduation requirements. 

Again for Option 4, the state does not regulate private education. However, other entities look toward private schools as having equal to or greater than the state minimum for public schools. When filing as a private high school, consider meeting or exceeding the state’s requirements for public schools.

Families homeschooling under Option 1 have no requirements to test their children. Families choosing to homeschool under Option 4 must use any nationally normed standardized test for Grades 4, 6, and 8. Such standardized tests must evaluate students in math, spelling, grammar, and reading. Parents must keep these results on file and make them available to DEED at DEED’s request. 

There are no vaccine requirements for Option 1. Under Option 4, parents are required to annually report the vaccination status of each child enrolled in their school to DHSS. This includes any exemptions. The Department of Health & Social Services (DHSS) only looks at whether or not children are compliant. If a large percentage are “non-compliant” in area schools, the department may begin to investigate why. The investigation may include contact with the schools and education programs for parents and students.

“Equal Access,” also known as the Tim Tebow Law, was passed in 2013. This statute only applies to high school students in Grades 9 through 12, and it applies to every public and private school in regards to a homeschool student participating in team sports sanctioned through Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA). This statute - which may be viewed HERE - is the most restrictive law for anyone choosing to homeschool under Option 1.

Section (c) is the definitions section. It defines “alternative education program” and lists the various publicly funded, non-traditional public school options. It also includes one, and only one, privately funded educational option: homeschool. This inclusion refuses to recognize the validity of the homeschooling options from AS 14.30.010. Thus, to be considered “eligible” for “equal access,” one must use an accredited program for a minimum of five classes. This actually takes away the authority of the parent to oversee the education of his/her child, takes away the validity of other options as being lawful, introduces additional requirements outside of regulations and statutory requirements, and automatically places homeschoolers under suspicion of academic neglect.

The legal authority of the statute also defers the term “eligibility” for further regulation to “the statewide interscholastic governing body,” which is the Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA). ASAA is a private entity that charges both statewide and regional membership dues. After passage of “equal access,” or what many refer to as “the homeschool law,” ASAA drafted policies from AS 14.30.365 for its member schools to use to determine eligibility of homeschool students. ASAA strictly forbids its member schools from participating in any sports or activities with any non-member schools.  

For purposes of the statutory definitions of “accredited,” ASAA defers to DEED. At one point in time, DEED would consider schools accredited if they completed a self-study and were determined by DEED as acceptable. Such self-study no longer exists. The only entity that DEED recognizes for accreditation purposes now, is AdvancEd, and AdvancEd does not accredit homeschools. Considering that the bulk of the statute was written for non-traditional, public education options, this narrow-mindedness isn’t surprising.

Furthermore, ASAA membership is no longer available to homeschools. Membership is open to any accredited public school or accredited public school district, and any private school that would like to apply for membership and pay annual dues upon membership approval. Private schools are not required to be accredited but private homeschools are! If you use Option 1 and your child wants to play baseball for the local private school, you either have to use an accredited program or resort to Option 4 – file as an exempt private school and request membership to ASAA as a private school. This author knows of a couple families who value their freedom enough to do this for the high school grades only, and willingly subjected their homeschools to this third party regulation and scrutiny. ASAA is not a fan of these private schools, yet is unwilling to spend the tens of thousands of dollars for its legal department to change the way the law reads.

Alaska also has a plethora of local and statewide “homeschool” programs. These programs are so popular now that DEED only references them on the state’s website under “Homeschooling.” DEED has removed any and all reference to the actual compulsory education statute that legalizes homeschooling. In reality, these programs are all extensions of public education – and are included in the list of “alternative education” in the “Equal Access” statute.

Children enrolled in these programs are public school students in an alternative educational setting. Parents think they have authority since they are choosing curriculum and much of the instruction occurs at home under their supervision, but the actual authority for grades and transcripts lies solely with the program itself. Families that enroll in these programs are not allowed to join The Homeschool Legal Defense Association, they must report what curriculum is being used, and must list all state-required subjects. The programs are required to test annually in Grades 3 through 10, but parents are able to opt-out with no repercussions. Parents must submit immunization records or exemptions to be able to enroll. These programs are regulated by DEED, which is the accountability department for the use of public funds for public education. DEED states that it does not regulate private education and the reporting requirements for private schools absolutely reflect this. Families that choose a publicly funded “homeschool” program, however, are willingly giving the state the authority over their children and their homes, thereby increasing the tax burden on all Alaskans, increasing the costs of classes and activities, and silently supporting and agreeing with the socialist ideology that the state has more interest and authority and can take better care of children than parents. It is a very slippery slope.

Alaska is considered homeschool-friendly by most legal analyses, but those analyses typically only examine the statute that legalized homeschooling in 1994 (i.e. “There are four options! It must be friendly!”). However, when legislators passed our homeschooling law, they also allowed during that same session a provision to experiment with a new, non-traditional style and use of public education dollars: the “homeschool” program. Now, 25 years later, we see the lines blurred as to what legally constitutes home education. We have witnessed legislation written specifically with the “homeschool” programs in mind while restricting families who actually homeschool under the law of Option 1. Anytime we see laws favoring public education over private or home education, we can easily surmise that the overall environment is not friendly.

Socially, homeschooling in general is accepted. However, among the homeschooling communities, independent homeschoolers (i.e. those not using state funds) are often treated as outcasts, much like the homeschooling pioneers of the 1980s. If we do not exercise our rights, it will be that much easier for those rights to be taken away. We see this happening firsthand in the not-so-equal “Equal Access” statute. Freedom is never free.


Jacquelyn Makinen is a homeschooling mother of seven, who began her homeschooling journey in 2001. She utilized a state program until 2011, when she learned what the actual homeschooling law says and that the program she’d used isn’t required to legally homeschool. Since then, she has become an advocate for private education and traditional, independent homeschooling. She has helped organize traditional, parent-volunteer co-ops, and assists a local homeschooling support group. She is also the Alaska Ambassador for HSLDA Compassion, helping homeschooling families who fall on hard times.