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Part-Time Enrollment Policies
Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt answers questions and assists members with legal issues in Indiana. He and his wife homeschool their children. Read more >>
As many of you may know, on April 29, 2013 the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) changed their bylaws to permit homeschool students to participate in IHSAA sponsored extra-curricular activities.
Under the new IHSAA rule homeschool student are eligible to participate in these extra-curricular activities if they met certain requirements. The main requirements are that the student was homeschooled for the past three years and that he or she is enrolled in and attending a minimum of one full-credit subject offered within the local public school.
Since the IHSAA rule change a number of homeschool parents have sought to have their local school corporation’s part-time attendance policy changed. One school corporation that is considering such a change is Fort Wayne Community Schools Corporation. While HSLDA is generally neutral on the part-time participation of homeschool students within their local school corporation, we often review these polices to ensure they won’t negatively impact the broader homeschool community.
Under Indiana law, local school corporations can allow part-time enrollment—but it is their decision. The school corporation would likely be able to seek state funding based up on the part-time students participation.
You may review the Fort Wayne policy below:
Part-time Enrollment for Home Educated Students Guidelines
1. Requests for part-time enrollment may be picked up in the office of the Superintendent of the Fort Wayne Community Schools.
2. Each student requesting part-time enrollment must meet all related criteria pursuant to Indiana Code 22-33-2 regarding compulsory school attendance.
3. The student will be subject to all applicable codes of conduct pertaining to full-time students.
4. The parent/guardian agrees to contact the appropriate building administrator and/or guidance counselor to schedule requested classes. The school administrator will establish the time and place for arrival and departure of home education students who are participating in part-time enrollment.
5. The parent/guardian agrees to provide transportation for the student to and from all classes/courses. When the child’s schedule at school is compatible with established routes and schedules of the district’s bus transportation and space is available, the child may be permitted to use district transportation.6. For courses requiring a prerequisite, partially enrolled students may be asked to provide reasonable indications that academic criteria have been met, so long as those students are required to meet the same prerequisite standards as full-time students.
7. Part-time enrollment entitles the student to participate in inter-scholastic athletics, provided the student also meets IHSAA and district eligibility guidelines.
8. The final decision regarding admission and placement for all home education students part-time in the Corporation rests with the superintendent.
Fort Wayne Community School District will permit partially enrolled students access to the following district services:
Elementary Level, Grades K-5
1. Enrollment for the duration of the course in the co-curricular subject areas of art, music, band, physical education, and computer class.
2. Participation in field trips or extra-curricular activities related to the subject areas in which they are enrolled.
Secondary Level, Grades 6-12
1. Enrollment in a minimum of one course for the duration of the courses in any subject areas.
2. Participation in field trips, extra-curricular activities, and clubs.
The Fort Wayne proposal indicates that the main purpose of the new policy is to allow homeschool parents to “remain actively involved in their children’s education while also being involved in and supportive of the local public school.” The proposal also states that Fort Wayne Community School Corporation “will have an opportunity to retain or re-enroll these students and receive state funding for them.” Finally, the proposal points out that the “[p]art-time enrollment applications and eligible requirement may be designed to address any concerns the Board or Superintendent have regarding prospective part-time students.”
In reviewing the actual proposed policy HSLDA has several concerns.
Under No. 2 of the policy it states that “[e]ach student requesting part-time enrollment must meet all related criteria pursuant to Indiana Code 22-33-2 regarding compulsory school attendance.” This wording is too vague and could leave the impression that part-time homeschool students must meet provisions of Indiana Code that are really not applicable to them.
Certainly a homeschool student who seeks to enroll part-time in the public school should meet the same requirements as other public school students while they are enrolled in the same public school class or program. However, the homeschool students should not be obligated to demonstrate they meet those provisions that would not otherwise apply to a nonaccredited nonpublic school student.
While homeschool students should not be required to provide documentation of their school work done outside of the public school class they are participating in, if they desire to play sports they will have to provide some additional verification of the student’s grades and verify that they are passing all of their courses.
Leave it to the Parents
Under No. 8 of the Fort Wayne proposal the wording is again vague and unclear. As the wording is now, it could be misinterpreted that the superintendent can determine the grade placement the homeschool student is in within the nonaccredited nonpublic school. We believe it needs to be revised to ensure that only the admission and placement within the public school is up to the superintendent. There should be no doubt that the grade level of the homeschool student is determined by the parents in their own home education program.
In addition to the actual wording of the part-time student policy, the Fort Wayne proposal includes a sample “application” for part-time enrollment. While this form lists general information that would be necessary, there is at least one piece of information requested that is not. In fact, the form as written now violates both federal and state law.
Under Indiana Code 4-1-8-1, “[n]o individual may be compelled by any state agency, board, commission, department, bureau, or other entity of state government (referred to as ‘state agency’ in this chapter) to provide the individual’s Social Security number to the state agency against the individual’s will, absent federal requirements to the contrary.” The department of education and a local school corporation would fall under this definition.
In addition, Indiana code 4-1-8-2 states that any form must include the following information:
• a brief state of the reason why the Social Security number is requested by the state agency; and
• a notification either:
• that the individual has the right to refuse to provide his Social Security number to the agency, if he so desires, and that he will not be penalized therefore.
Federal law is similar. The Federal Privacy Act of 1974 prohibits public school officials from requesting a Social Security number without clearly specifying that that number is optional or mandatory and identifying the reason for which the number has been requested.
It is our opinion that the Fort Wayne Community School Corporation part-time attendance proposal has several flaws that need to be addressed. HSLDA is opposed to the policy as it is currently written. The sample form must be revised to reflect both state and federal law.
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