August 12, 2008

State Makes Demand for Unauthorized Information

After turning in their year-end assessment, the Hailstorm family (name changed to protect their privacy) received a letter from the Maine Department of Education instructing them to submit a “subsequent year” letter with their children’s ages, and the starting date of their homeschool program. The form the state sent also asked the family to provide assurance that the program would continue for at least 175 days and cover all the required subjects.

Members of Home School Legal Defense Association for five years, the family called for help. Attorney Scott Woodruff reviewed the state’s correspondence and spotted their gaffe: they were demanding information the family had already submitted—and only needs to be submitted once. Under the major reforms of Maine’s homeschool law in 2003, families must submit a fairly detailed notice of intent their first year of homeschooling, but only need to file a brief letter in subsequent years confirming their intention to continue with homeschooling (called the “subsequent year letter”).

Attorney Woodruff wrote a letter to the Department of Education explaining that they were demanding information that was not appropriate for a subsequent year letter. As of this writing, the Department had not replied to the letter or a follow-up email. Families should avoid using the state’s “subsequent year letter” form since it calls for information not required to be submitted.