Beware of Illegal Requirements
At this time of year our office hears from many home schoolers who have received letters from their superintendents. More often than not, these contacts present requests which exceed the home school regulations. Home schoolers are frequently requested (or told they are "required") to submit academic assessments early in the summer (i.e. June 30), besides meeting notification deadlines. Home schoolers are not bound by such requests, and Home School Legal Defense Association recommends home schoolers attach their assessment to their notification and submit it as soon as school begins.
Along with their letters, superintendents may include request forms or applications from the school district. Understandably, most home schoolers find these forms objectionable, since regulations do not require parents to apply or seek permission to home school their children. Those who are new to home schooling may not be aware that they are not required to use any form when notifying their superintendent of their intention to home school. The superintendent can not deny a notification for home schooling if a family has not used the "official" form.
HSLDA often recommends that its members use the notification form devised by Christian Home Educators of Ohio for two reasons: the form is in compliance with the regulations (unlike many school district's forms which ask for unauthorized additional information); and using a form simplifies the notification process. HSLDA members may disregard such forms from the school district and use whatever method of notification they choose. If you encounter any resistance from your superintendent you should contact our legal department for assistance.
Some home schooling families have received letters from the Hamilton County Public School Superintendent's Office. The letter indicates the home school regulations have been changed and attaches a new assurance form to be filled out. There are no new regulations. The county superintendent may have new regulations, but the county does not have the authority to impose any regulations other than the state regulations. Member families should continue to use the same form used in the past.
Another issue that always raises its head this time of year is mandatory kindergarten. If you have a 5-year-old, you may find yourself being pressured by misinformed school officials to submit a notification for home education. The compulsory school age in Ohio is six years, and notification isn't required until the child reaches that age. The confusion arises because kindergarten is a mandatory prerequisite for attendance at public school first grade; however, it does not apply to home schooling and does not change the compulsory school age.
Home schoolers encountering this kindergarten problem frequently ask if they should just go ahead and notify. That certainly is an option, but it is unnecessary paperwork that can legally be delayed another year. The mandatory academic assessment must be provided at the end of the first year of home schooling. HSLDA recommends waiting until the child reaches compulsory school age before submitting notification.