Michigan’s Seat-Time Waivers & How They Can Help Homeschoolers

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Does the idea of no-cost online homeschool classes sound good to you? The State of Michigan's Seat Time Waivers (STWs) provide opportunities for homeschool students to take elective courses for free on a part-time basis through their local public school district. Depending on your reason for homeschooling your child, this may be an option worth investigating further with your local school district.
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If you’re the parent of a homeschool student, understanding Seat-Time Waivers (STW) and how they work in Michigan can help enhance your child’s homeschool curriculum.

To encourage flexible learning options, the state of Michigan allows Seat Time Waivers (STWs) that remove the days, hours, and physical attendance requirements for students.

For homeschool students, this means enrolling in a participating district without being required to physically attend the school as they work toward a high school diploma or grade progression.

A seeming contradiction?

“Wait a minute,” you say. “Doesn’t this go against the principles of homeschooling?”

Not necessarily. It all depends on the reason a parent chooses to homeschool.

Homeschool parents, just like everyone else, pay taxes for public education yet may not be reaping any of the benefits from doing so.

State law allows homeschool learners to enroll part-time in elective studies.

Adding an online program to your homeschool curriculum can complement what you are already doing and even enhance the educational experience for your middle or high school student.

Seat-time waivers & online courses

Now, let’s take a brief look at how a STW can give you and your homeschool student additional access to free online courses.

First, know that Michigan law allows students to attend a full-time online school or participate in a seat time waiver program approved by the Michigan Department of Education.

In these cases, the school also is required to provide them with a computer and Internet access.

A homeschool student may be enrolled on a part-time basis in elective courses provided by a public school district.

This type of enrollment is referred to as shared-time enrollment because the student is enrolled in the public district and the homeschool on a part-time basis.

School districts benefit, too, from STWs and shared-time enrollment because they can count the student as part of their overall enrollment. By doing so, they receive additional state funding based on the per pupil count.

Contacting your local school district

Participating public school districts often require the homeschool parent to complete a STW application.

Once completed, the district will review the application for consideration into the program.

The Michigan Department of Education provides a list of STW-approved districts with program details for each.

A STW often permits your child to participate in all of the district’s fine arts, clubs, programs, and athletics as well as have access to a computer, internet service, and a designated mentor if desired.

STWs can offer flexibility, dual enrollment, Advanced Placement courses, and access to an array of electives for homeschoolers.

The first step to getting additional information on STWs available in your community is to contact the principal or superintendent at your local school district.

These administrators are the ones most likely to know whether or not they’ll be able to work with you to provide a STW for your child.

Some school districts are more knowledgeable than others about partnering with homeschoolers, so it may take a little research (and persistence) on your part.

The end result, though, can mean free homeschool online courses, access to extracurricular activities, and more for your child.

Seat-Time Waivers are one of several flexible education options available for homeschoolers in Michigan. With 200+ online homeschool programs, Michigan Virtual can help you connect to online learning that’s right for your middle and high school student.

Sources

Donnelly, M. (2017). What about Michigan’s “Homeschool Partnerships”? Home School Legal Defense Association.

Ewen-Trout Creek School District. Seat Time Waiver Program.

Gull Lake Public Schools. Gull Lake Virtual Partnership.

Michigan Department of Education. Flexible Learning Options.

Michigan Department of Education. Pupil Accounting Manual.

 

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