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Portfolio Review Requested after Only Two Months

Two months after beginning to homeschool their son for medical reasons, a Lee County Home School Legal Defense Association member family was surprised to receive a letter from a local school official requesting a portfolio review of their son’s home education program.

The family called HSLDA and asked for assistance. They believed this review was requested because their son suffers from an autoimmune disorder and had missed several days of school during the time he was enrolled in public school. For each of their son’s absences, the family had submitted legitimate medical excuses. When their son’s illness finally required him to remain at home, the family withdrew their son from the public school and filed a notice of intent to homeschool him.

HSLDA Staff Attorney Thomas Schmidt wrote the school, acknowledging that state law allows officials to request a portfolio review in certain situations, but pointing out that a review was not necessary in this case. He explained that the school could not hold any of the son’s absences against the family since they had submitted a medical excuse for each absence and had followed the state’s policies and procedures for withdrawing their son from the school to homeschool him. Schmidt assured the school that the student’s doctor could attest that the boy had not exhibited a pattern of nonattendance. In addition, Schmidt argued it made no sense to require a review from a family who had been homeschooling for barely two months. Since the Florida statutes do not require schools to inspect homeschool portfolios, there was no reason to proceed with the review.

The day Schmidt’s letter was received, school officials reviewed the family’s records, informed Schmidt that they found no need to conduct the portfolio review, and cancelled the family’s review appointment.

— by Thomas J. Schmidt