Favorable Interpretation of Special Education Requirements
The Arkansas Department of Education has adopted an interpretation of special education requirements which is favorable to home-schooled students. Section 6-15-506 of Arkansas Statutes Annotated requires that any student who has been identified by federal and state law as needing special education services is not eligible to meet the requirements of compulsory attendance by participating in a home school program unless the “parent/teacher of such child holds a valid certification from the State of Arkansas to teach special education courses in a public or private school.” Paragraph 9.01 of the Regulations and Procedures for Home Schools promulgated by the Arkansas Department of Education states that a parent who intends to provide home schooling for a handicapped student must select one of the following “service delivery options” for implementing an individual education program (IEP) to meet the needs of the student:
- The parent holds a valid Arkansas teaching certificate in the field of special education in order to provide the specialized instruction.
- The parent contracts with a private provider who is certified or licensed to provide the specialized instruction.
- The parent accesses specialized instruction which is available from the local school district.
Paragraph 9.02 of the Regulations goes on to state that regardless of which option is selected by the parent, the “parent/teacher” of a handicapped child must hold a valid certificate from the State of Arkansas to teach special education.
The term “parent/teacher” has been construed by the department of education to require that only the person providing this special education need be certified in this area of instruction. A parent need not also be certified in the area of special education if the parent either contracts with a private provider who is so certified or obtains the instruction through the local school district. Until the recent expression of the department of education’s interpretation of this area of home school law, many parents were under the impression that they themselves had to be certified in the area of special education in order to instruct a handicapped child at home, even if special education was being obtained through sources outside of the home utilizing certified special education teachers.