The Home School Court Report
No. 1

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Districts push notice of intent

Across the state, school districts are trying to persuade homeschooling families to file an annual notice of intent.

The Waynesville RVI School District sent a Home School Legal Defense Association member family a form captioned "Letter of Intent to Home School" to fill out and return.* When the family called HSLDA for advice on how to respond, we advised them to disregard it. We then called the school district and explained to the director of special services that families are not required to submit any homeschool notice. He admitted that he had no legal authority to demand the family's response.

In central Missouri, the Prairie Home RV School District published a statement asking families to give them notice of their homeschool program. After a member alerted us, HSLDA called the principal. He conceded that he had no power to require families to give any notice of their homeschool programs and said he knew all about the law—"several" families had already mailed him copies of Missouri's homeschool law!

And in Lafayette County, the Lexington R-V School District recently placed this announcement in an area newspaper: "Lexington HomeSchool Students: please notify annually the Superintendent of Schools . . . in writing . . . if you have elected to home-school your child or children."

Notifying the school district of your intent to homeschool is not required in Missouri, and we strongly advise against it.

School districts sometimes push the voluntary notice because it gives them an opportunity to get more taxpayer money. If a family files a notice that complies with Missouri Statutes 167.042, the school district will be entitled to a certain amount of additional funding. The notice requirements include: notice in writing by September 1, signature of the parent, name and age of each child, home address and phone number, and name of each person teaching in the homeschool.

We believe it is a common practice across the state for school districts to request and receive funding even when the requirements of the statute have not been met. We have seen school districts "hunt" for homeschool children, and we suspect they requested and received tax funds for all the homeschool children they "found," even without meeting the requirements of the statute.

When families are aware of their rights, as in the three instances mentioned above, it dramatically reduces the likelihood that an official will be able to take advantage of them or their fellow homeschoolers.

by Scott A. Woodruff

* See "A plethora of forms."