The Home School Court Report
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Cover Story
Compulsory Education Laws: The Dialogue Reopens

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a contrario sensu

What’s That in My Hot Chocolate?

It was in the course of a family reading of The Silver Chair that a discussion developed about marshwiggles.

“Marshwiggles are not real,” said 8-year-old Charity.

“But they are a real food,” insisted 4-year-old David.

We were baffled until he responded, “You know, they’re white and fluffy.”

Paula McQuitty
Laurel, Maryland

Grade Placement Difficulties

Some Pennsylvania school districts are under the mistaken impression that public school officials, not parents, are responsible for determining the grade level of children in home education programs. Most notable is the situation where a child has completed grades one and two at home prior to becoming subject to the compulsory attendance law at age eight. School districts often insist upon seeing proof of compliance with the home education law during the time the child was taught in the first and second grades before the school district will recognize that the child is now in the third grade.

Recently, the School District of Philadelphia asserted that a Home School Legal Defense Association member family’s eight year old be designated as a first grader in the home education program. HSLDA reminded the school official that children under eight may be instructed at home but need not comply with the home school law, because they are not yet of compulsory attendance age. The parent, designated as the home education program supervisor by state law, is responsible for determining grade placement.

In addition to contending with public school officials about the grade placement of children who have been taught at home prior to reaching compulsory attendance age, HSLDA member families also encounter difficulties later on when school officials attempt to control the level of education received by their children. Not only is the parent responsible for determining grade placement, but state law does not require parents to even disclose in the affidavit filed with the superintendent the grade level of the child. Standardized testing must occur at grades 3, 5, and 8, but this is the only time parents are required to indicate the grade at which the student was taught.

Parents encountering difficulties with public schools about the grade placement of their children should contact HSLDA for assistance. — Dewitt T. Black