The Tennessee statutes which define and regulate homeschooling (TCA 49-6-3050) can be restrictive and sometimes repressive to families who value the liberty of educating their children under God’s authority. For this reason, Heritage Covenant Schools operates its program solely under the freedoms granted in TCA 49-50-801.
Heritage Covenant Schools operates a satellite program of individualized instruction under the supervision of the HCS Headmaster. HCS does not refer to itself as an “umbrella” school not to its students as “homeschoolers.”
Under TCA 49-6-3050 (the “Homeschool” law) families who wish to homeschool their children are required by the state of Tennessee to register each child either with the Local Educational Authority (LEA) or with a church-related school as an “umbrella.” In both instances the Department of Education maintains control over the education of the child by way of testing requirements and other controls.
Heritage Covenant Schools pioneered the concept of “satellite classrooms” under TCA 49-50-801 (the church-related school statute). Under this concept, the parents are officially designated as volunteer faculty and come under the authority and protection of HCS via its status as a church-related school. The state and local boards of education are denied control.
In 2011, the Tennessee Home Education Association with the help of the HSLDA lobbied for and gained an addition to the “Home schools” section of the Tennessee Code (TCA 49-6-3050). It reads,
(3) A parent-teacher may enroll the parent’s home school student or students in a church-related school, as defined in § 49-50-801, and participate as a teacher in that church-related school. Such parent-teacher shall be subject to the requirements established by the church-related school for home school teachers and exempt from the rest of the provisions of this section.”
HCS feels that this “adjustment” to Tennessee’s law was misconceived and ill-advised. It was an attempt to include the Jeter Memorandum into TN Code, but instead it clouds the issue of separation between the two sections of Tennessee law. The Jeter Memorandum specifically states that “Parents also have the option of having their children attend a church-related school. This is not home schooling, [emphasis added] because the church-related school is not being conducted by parents or legal guardians for their own children.” The addition to law pushed by the THEA calls those same families “Home schools.” Two legal designations for the same concept.