Confidential Information Requested by State
On November 16, 1995, one of our member families who has organized a home school independent study program (ISP) in the Santa Rosa City School District received an interesting letter from the Director of Evaluation and Data Management for the school district. The letter stated that the school district was required to conduct a survey of private, parochial, and alternative schools within the school district. The mandate allegedly came from the State Department of Education to collect information for the Education School Level Aid for Dependent Children Report.
Through this report, the state is attempting to determine the number of students living within the school district who were attending private, parochial, or alternative schools. Although the name of the child was not required to be submitted, the report did ask for the complete address and grade level of the student.
Our members asked whether or not this information had to be provided.
HSLDA's opinion is that the private school affidavit, which is filed between October 1 and October 15 by private schools, contains the number of students receiving instruction in the private school, as well as their grade level. To provide any further information, such as the complete address of the student, would be to breach the confidentiality of the students and their parents. This is information that is to be protected by the private school and should not be released without the consent of the parent or a legitimate court order. Therefore, the only information that can be provided in this report is the number of students and their grade levels.
Public School Independent Study Programs
HSLDA is hearing from more and more member families who are receiving contacts from public school districts offering incentives to join the public school ISP. One district even offered the loan of a computer and other services, in addition to promising to respect the home schooler's religious convictions.
First of all, be wary of these kinds of offers. By law, the public school ISP cannot offer any service to a home school student enrolled in the public school ISP that the school district is not offering all public school students. Although some students in public schools may have computers, it is doubtful that all have computers. Therefore, it is possible that the offer of a computer to the home school student goes beyond the authority of the school district.
Second, we have to remind families that children enrolled in the public school ISP are not covered by HSLDA membership. This policy was established by our board when we first addressed this issue many years ago in California. There were several compelling reasons behind this decision, but the primary reason was and is that HSLDA's mission and purpose is to protect the right of parents to educate their children independent of public school oversight. This continues to be an issue in California as the State Department of Education contends that the only legal option for home schooling in California is via the public school ISP or by a California certified teacher tutoring the children.