Heir

New Driver's Law Affects Home Study Programs

[News page]

by Cindy Sewell
(This information was sent to HeirUpdates on 2/17/00)

Two distinctly different sections of the Georgia code recently collided in an effort to link compulsory school attendance with driving privileges. Home study parents began receiving conflicting information from their counties last year. Fulton County sent out information which included an attendance form and instructions which assumed that the parent was the homestudy supervisor responsible for signing the attendance form and having it notarized. Dekalb County sent already filled out and notarized attendance forms.

So how do you go about getting a driver's permit at age 15? The attendance form is available at http://www.heir.org/forms.htm#license. The forms can usually be notarized at your local bank at no charge. The code section which deals with the homestudy program was modified to allow the Department of Motor Vehicles to access the the attendance database. If they have any reason to question the attendance form they can check the state's database to see if your attendance sheets are on file.

Another problem arises when your student turns 16 and wants to turn the permit into a license. Previously, this was no problem. It was also the time when you were no longer required to send in attendance forms as compulsory attendance age is 7-16. However, per section (a.1) (1) you must now choose an option:

  1. Show proof that applicant has received a highschool diploma
  2. Show proof that applicant has received a GED diploma
  3. Show proof that applicant has received a special diploma
  4. Show proof that applicant has received a certificate of highschool completion
  5. Applicant has permission of parent or guardian to withdraw from school (notice the stigmatized term "drop-out" is not used)
  6. Is enrolled in a postsecondary school (college of some sort) or
  7. Continue to send in attendance forms past the compulsory school age of 16 as stated in section (a.1)1.B.

[OpEd page]

How homeschoolers respond to this challenge will set a precedent. I can see no case where a public school official should be listed as "certifying official" of a homestudy program. Remember the Department of Education is not allowed to monitor home study programs. Home educators can vouch for themselves.

Others will choose different methods for dealing with the paperwork of post-compulsory school attendance age. Options A, C, and D all appeal to me with the student having the opportunity to continue independent study at home in between highschool and college, but not under the authority of the state. It's relatively easy to create a special document that shows your student's achievement. E and F also have possibilities. My kids have always had permission to withdraw from compulsory attendance. In contrast, they learn all the time. The enrollment in a post secondary school need not be full-time. We have the opportunity to define our own terms here and to reach for the maximum freedom available. Why give such a precious possession away incrementally. It's worth a little fight.

This report and opinion submitted by Cindy Sewell, HEIR Chair 99/00 and is not legal advice.

[Document page]

Pertinent Excerpts from the New Driver's License Law
section (a.1)1 - B.
40-5-22 G
*** CODE SECTION *** 10/15/99

40-5-22.
.... On and after January 1, 1985, the department shall not issue any driver's license to any person under 18 years of age unless such person presents a certificate or other evidence acceptable to the department which indicates satisfactory completion of an alcohol and drug course as prescribed in subsection (b) of Code Section 20-2-142; provided, however, that a person under 18 years of age who becomes a resident of this state and who has in his or her immediate possession a valid license issued to him or her in another state or country shall not be required to take or complete the alcohol and drug course. ....
(a.1)(1) The department shall not issue an instruction permit or driver's license to a person who is younger than 18 years of age unless at the time such minor submits an application for an instruction permit or driver's license the applicant presents acceptable proof that he or she has received a high school diploma, a general educational development (GED) equivalency diploma, a special diploma, or a certificate of high school completion, has permission of his or her parent or guardian to withdraw from school, or has terminated his or her secondary education and is enrolled in a postsecondary school or the records of the department indicate that said applicant:
(A) Is enrolled in and not under suspension from a public or private school and satisfies relevant attendance requirements as set forth in paragraph (2) of this subsection; or
(B) Is enrolled in a home education program that satisfies the requirements of all state laws governing such courses.
(2) The department shall forthwith notify by certified mail, return receipt requested, any minor issued an instruction permit or driver's license in accordance with this subsection other than a minor who has terminated his or her secondary education and is enrolled in a postsecondary school or who has permission of his or her parent or guardian to withdraw from school that such minor's instruction permit or driver's license is suspended subject to review as provided for in this subsection if the records of the department indicate that such minor:
(A) Has dropped out of school without graduating and has remained out of school for ten consecutive school days;
(B) Has more than ten consecutive school days of unexcused absences in any semester or combination of two consecutive quarters; or
(C) Has been suspended from school for:
(i) Threatening, striking, or causing bodily harm to a teacher or other school personnel;
(ii) Possession or sale of drugs or alcohol on school property; or
(iii) Possession or use of a weapon on school property. For purposes of this subparagraph, the term "weapon" shall not include any part of an archeological or cultural exhibit brought to school in connection with a school project.
Notice given by certified mail with return receipt requested mailed to the person's last known address shall be prima-facie evidence that such person received the required notice. The minor so notified may request in writing a hearing within ten business days from the date of receipt of notice. Within 30 days after receiving a written request for a hearing, the department shall hold a hearing as provided for in Chapter 13 of Title 50, the "Georgia Administrative Procedure Act." After such hearing, the department shall sustain its order of suspension or rescind such order. Appeal from such hearing shall be in accordance with said chapter. If no hearing is requested within the ten business days specified above, the right to a hearing shall have been waived and the instruction permit or driver's license of the minor shall remain suspended. The suspension provided for in this paragraph shall be for a period to end upon the date of such minor's eighteenth birthday, but such minor's instruction permit or driver's license shall be reinstated if the minor submits evidence satisfactory to the department that he or she has resumed regular studies as determined by the State Board of Education and qualifies for an instruction permit or driver's license under the provisions of this subsection, upon payment of a restoration fee of $50.00; provided, however, that any instruction permit or driver's license suspended pursuant to subparagraph (C) of this paragraph shall not be reinstated until 90 days after the effective date of the suspension of such permit or license.
(3) The State Board of Education and the Board of Public Safety are authorized to promulgate rules and regulations to implement the provisions of this subsection.....

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06/23/00 created
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