The Home School Court Report
Vol. XXIII
No. 5
Cover
September/October
2007

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WYOMING

Alerting Special Needs Homeschoolers

Some Wyoming school districts are distributing forms to homeschoolers informing them of their “eligibility for special services” from the school district.

These letters are most likely prompted by the “Child Find” provisions of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In order to maintain eligibility for federal education funding, school districts are required to make a free appropriate public education available to all students in their district, and they must create a plan to locate, identify, and evaluate all students in the district who are suspected of having special education needs.

Unfortunately, some school districts misinterpret the requirement to make contact as a mandate to require action on the part of private schools or homeschools. Some school districts in other states have actually initiated due process hearings against such families, attempting to require that the parents have their children evaluated to determine whether they have special needs. (See Home School Legal Defense Association's IDEA Issues Library webpage.

In order to prove compliance with IDEA requirements, some districts use certified mail to document that they attempted contact with a family. Homeschoolers who do not wish to obtain public school special needs services may simply send a letter to the school district stating that they have no children who would be eligible for or interested in public special education services. If you need assistance with this process, feel free to contact HSLDA. As a matter of policy, HSLDA recommends that families seek special education services through private sources rather than through the public school. Understanding that not every family can afford private services, the Home School Foundation offers financial assistance. Visit the Home School Foundation's Special Needs Fund webpage.

— by Michael P. Donnelly