There are a number of practices and legal issues which separate HCS from other church-related schools in Tennessee. These all revolve around the practices and legal issues raised in the “Jeter Memorandum” which is printed in its entirety on this website (go here).
FIRST. Heritage Covenant is NOT an umbrella school. “Umbrella” schools operate under the provisions of the homeschool law (TCA 49-6-3050). HCS operates solely under the provisions of the church-related school act (TCA 49-50-801). The Jeter Memorandum states, “Parents also have the option of having their children attend a church-related school. This is not home schooling…”
SECOND. Because Heritage Covenant does not operate under the homeschool law, we utilize the terms “home education” and “home educators.” Our students are not “homeschoolers.” The Jeter Memorandum states, “Under this option there is no need to comply with any of the home school provisions of Section 49-6-3050.”
THIRD. Heritage Covenant enrolls students in a program of “satellite classrooms” and the parents (or guardians) are designated “volunteer faculty” of HCS. Every year during Parent Orientation, parents are appointed and prayer over for their annual responsibilities. The Jeter Memorandum states, “the home will have to be designated as a classroom or extension of the church-related school. The parent will have to be considered a faculty member of the church-related school under the direct supervision of its administration.”
FOURTH. Heritage Covenant requires a quarterly reporting of student progress and evaluation. This compares to any day school which also provides such reporting on at least a quarterly basis. Although “instant online record keeping” sounds very modern, it does not comply with Tennessee law. And any school which requires less than four reporting periods is not conducting itself in accordance with Tennessee law. The Jeter Memorandum states, “The parents should have the same accountability to those in authority at the church-related school as any other teachers at the main campus or location of the school.
FIFTH. Heritage Covenant provides a 180-day academic calendar in accordance with Tennessee law. By doing so, the student actually has the opportunity of having “sick days” which are not allowed under the 180-day attendance requirement of the homeschool law. HCS is also generous in giving generous approval of curriculum selected by their volunteer faculty. The Jeter Memorandum states, “The curriculum and schedule of instruction should be approved by the church-related school.”
SIXTH. Heritage Covenant meets the standard for record keeping. The Jeter Memorandum states, “There should be centralized record keeping, attendance reporting, and academic evaluation.“
Although “Option Four” (provisions of the Jeter Memorandum) was recently written into the homeschool law, the wording was so poorly constructed as to negate any benefit which was expected. Any family which expects protection under Option Four is living in a legal fantasy. The Jeter Memorandum was clear when it stated, “This is not home schooling” (emphasis my own).
Heritage Covenant Schools is the only church-related school operating completely protected under the provisions of Tennessee’s Church-Related School statute and the Jeter Memorandum.