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November / December 2005

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Request for Social Security numbers

Several Home School Legal Defense Association members residing in the Honeoye Central School District contacted us when they received a school census form requesting too much information. Among other things, Honeoye's form requested each child's Social Security number, along with home and work phone numbers for each parent.

Under New York Education Law 3241 and 3242, local school boards are authorized to take a school census. However, the law requires only the name, birth date, and residence of each child from birth to 18 along with the names of their parents. While a school board is authorized to request some additional information, it must relate to the enforcement of compulsory education or child labor laws.

Federal law prohibits school officials from requesting Social Security numbers unless they identify the statutory authority to do so. If there is no statutory authority, the request for the number must be clearly identified as optional.

After HSLDA Attorney Thomas Schmidt contacted Honeoye Central School District, the fraudulently collected Social Security numbers were deleted from the district's records and the census forms were amended.

Eastport South Manor harasses families

Homeschooling families in the Eastport South Manor Central School District recently received a letter stating that their Individualized Home Instruction Plans (IHIPs) were being returned. In the letter, the district stated that homeschool parents were required to indicate the amount of instructional time planned for each subject and that each child was to receive a minimum of five hours per day of instruction. Eastport also demanded the table of contents from each textbook along with the syllabus and scope and sequence. Finally, the district insisted that parents indicate what they intended to submit for their annual assessment.

HSLDA Attorney Thomas Schmidt wrote to the Eastport School District and informed them that parents are not required to provide an instructional schedule for the school year, let alone a schedule broken down by subject. Additionally, Schmidt pointed out that New York law only requires a parent to teach the substantial equivalent of 180 days of instruction. The cumulative hours required is 900 for elementary students and 990 for secondary students. If parents so wish, they can teach only a few hours a day all year round.

Schmidt also informed Eastport that a parent is only required to submit a list of the syllabi, curriculum material, or textbooks or a plan of instruction for each subject. New York law permits parents to choose any one of these four options in reporting the materials used for each subject. There is no authority for the district to attempt to require parents to submit all of these items for each subject.

Finally, Schmidt pointed out that state regulations set no specific deadline when parents must indicate their choice for the annual assessment and/or administrator. While it is generally recommended that parents notify the district of their choice by the third quarterly report, it is certainly not a requirement that the choice be submitted simultaneously with the IHIP.

Although we will continue to monitor the Eastport School District closely, HSLDA members in this district should not expect any more difficulties with their IHIP forms.

— by Thomas J. Schmidt