Originally Sent: 8/20/2014
|From the HSLDA e-lert service|
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Miami-Dade County Still
Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt answers questions and assists members with legal issues in your state. He and his wife homeschool their children.
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Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:
Good news! We’ve scheduled a meeting with Miami-Dade County public school officials to discuss their longstanding reluctance to follow the law when families file a notice to begin homeschooling.
As many of you already know, Miami-Dade County school officials have been making these unlawful demands of some home education programs for several years. Generally, officials have targeted families reporting their home education program for the first time, telling them to use a form created by the county. Some families have even been told to visit the school department’s Federal and State Compliance Office to “register.” Most parents have also been told that they must bring a certified copy of their child’s birth certificate and/or proof of residency.
These demands clearly exceed what Florida law requires. To establish a home education program parents need only provide their local district school superintendent a written notice including the names, address, and birthdates of their children.
HSLDA has written to Miami-Dade County Public Schools many times over the past few years on behalf of several families. The occasional response typically states that “requesting documentation that a person is a ‘parent’ who resides in Miami-Dade County does not violate the statute” and that officials are merely requesting “confirmation that the person is in fact a parent living in this District.”
This situation has not improved. We continue to hear from families who are being told that they must provide this additional documentation or they will not be “registered” as a home education program in Miami-Dade.
We requested the meeting on Monday, August 25 to address this issue. Please pray for me and representatives of Florida Parents Educators Association and several local homeschool support groups as we attempt to reach an accord with Miami-Dade officials.
While some parents might not object to providing their child’s birth certificate or proof of residency, HSLDA believes there is a bigger issue at stake—who has the right to approve a home education program.
State law is very specific about what is required for parents to establish a home education program and what they must do to notify local school district officials. What Miami-Dade is trying to do is to claim that a parent is not officially “registered” as a home education program until they meet their additional requirements. While each parent can make his own decision as to whether he or she provides the additional information, there is no guarantee that school officials might not ask for even more next year. HSLDA’s goal is to protect the right of parents to educate their children at home and to prevent school officials from unnecessarily burdening their exercise of that right.
Until the meeting, we would appreciate hearing from any homeschool parents who have established their home education program, or filed their notice for new child they are teaching at home within the past three months. We would like to know what you were asked to do beyond what is required under Florida law. If you are in doubt as to what is the law requires, you can see our summary here.
You can send your description of what you were told, as well as what you did, to Miami@hslda.org. Please include whether you have received notice that your child was “registered” as a home education student. We intend to use this information in the upcoming meeting. (We will not provide school officials with any personally identifiable information or the names any family we have been in contact with.)
In the meantime, if you are filing your notice to establish a home education program and officials request your child’s birth certificate, we suggest you refuse to comply. In our opinion, you are not required to submit this document.
Instead, simply ask the school official to provide you with a list, in writing, of the information they want from you. If you receive any correspondence about this issue, please immediately forward it to us for evaluation and action.
If you have not yet filed your home education notification for a child, we suggest that you:
- Write a letter or use our form (available for members online) with just the required information (must be written, signed by parent and include children’s names, addresses, and birthdates).
- Keep a copy for your records and send the letter with delivery confirmation from the U.S. Postal Service.
- Notify HSLDA immediately if school officials contact you with a list of additional information they want.
We believe these unlawful demands are related to the Barahona case of a few years ago and are more likely to have come out of the Nubia Report than the Miami-Dade grand jury report on this same situation. If you are unfamiliar with this situation from over three years ago and what we have previously written about it, you can view our articles on the grand jury report and the Nubia Report.
Again, please feel free to forward this email to your homeschool friends in Miami-Dade who might not be members of HSLDA or signed up for our free e-lerts. We will continue to fight for home education families and notify you of any updates.
If you are not yet a member of HSLDA and would like us to protect your individual right to teach your children at home and for homeschool freedom in Florida, please join today.
If you would like to be put on our free email list to receive vital e-lerts you may sign up online.
Thanks for all of your efforts for home school freedom in Florida!
Thomas (Tj) Schmidt
HSLDA Staff Attorney
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