State Laws: North Carolina

by Leah O’Neil

Read the text of the actual statute HERE.

Parents wishing to homeschool in North Carolina must hold at least a high school diploma or its equivalent. They must also file a notice of intent with the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE).

Filing the notice of intent in North Carolina is actually very simple. Between the end of the most recent school year and July 1, the notice of intent form is typically unavailable. But after July 1 of the year, new homeschooling parents just log onto the Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE) website, select “Open a New Homeschool,” and fill out the form. You will be asked to choose whether you will homeschool as a religious or non-religious school, to choose a name for your school, to provide the name(s) and age(s) of the student(s), and to upload a scan or photograph of your diploma/equivalent certificate; note that providing names and ages of the child(ren) is optional. The DPNE typically responds within two business days by sending an email with a summary of the requirements moving forward and a PDF file containing a printable version of your school registration and ID number.

Parents only need to submit the notice of intent to open a homeschool once because a homeschool is considered to be in operation until it is formally closed by the parents. Additional students may be added through the web portal from year to year, but students only need to be enrolled once. Homeschools must be closed within thirty days of the final student’s graduation, the family moving to another state, or the student(s) being enrolled in a public or private school. Homeschools can be reopened at a later date.

North Carolina’s compulsory attendance law requires that all children between the ages of 7 and 16 be enrolled in school. For homeschooling parents, that means the notice of intent should be filed – or a new child added to the form – during the summer of the year a child turns seven. For example, if your child turns seven in October of this year, you should file a notice of intent – or add the child to an existing notice – sometime after July 1 this summer. The state requests that you do not open a homeschool before the year a child will turn seven, or enroll children who will not turn seven or older during the school year. 

Once a homeschool is established, nothing further is turned in to the state on a regular basis. Parents are required to maintain attendance records, standardized test scores, and immunization records for their children and are told to expect to be contacted for a records inspection during the school year. Such routine inspections are voluntary; if a parent agrees to an inspection, it will take place at a pre-arranged public meeting place. The inspections are also random, meaning that not every family will be contacted; rather, a few families will be selected in each area each year.

North Carolina does not require any specific subjects to be taught during the school year, but does require annual testing in English Grammar, Math, Reading, and Spelling. The DPNE suggests that parents teach material similar to what would be covered in a traditional classroom, but the state does not inspect curriculum.

A homeschool in North Carolina must operate for at least nine calendar months out of the year, with allowances for reasonable breaks. There are no requirements as to how many hours constitute a school day, or how many school days are required in the nine month window.

North Carolina does not set graduation requirements for homeschoolers. Parents are responsible for setting graduation expectations for their students. 

Parents in North Carolina must administer a nationally accepted standardized test every year. Parents can order and administer these tests themselves, and the results are not sent into the state. Test scores should be maintained in the homeschool records, and may be requested by state officials in the event of a records inspection.

North Carolina homeschools are required to keep vaccination records for their children, but religious or medical exemptions are available. Religious exemptions are fairly simple to obtain, requiring only a written declaration that a vaccination violates one's faith.


Driver Education:

North Carolina requires people under the age of 18 to submit a Driving Eligibility Certificate (DEC) showing that they are enrolled and making progress in school before the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will issue a driver’s license. For homeschooled students, this means the chief administrator/parent of the homeschool must request a DEC form from the DPNE through its website. The form is free and is typically received within two business days of the electronically submitted request.

Homeschooling in North Carolina is fairly simple and straightforward. The paperwork is easily accessible, and the amount of information actually submitted to the state is minimal. The requirements may seem a bit daunting on the surface, but, in practice, compliance is quite simple, and the amount of state involvement in the homeschool’s day-to-day affairs is basically non-existent.

Leah O’Neil is a homeschool graduate who in 2020 is beginning her fifth year as a homeschool mom. She is excited to carry the torch of homeschooling and hopes to encourage others that they can teach their children at home as well.