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New York

June 19, 2006

Homeschoolers Mistakenly Included in State Database

This school year several Home School Legal Defense Association member families have received data or enrollment forms from their local school districts. So far, HSLDA has had contact with the Canastota, Lansing, Oppenheim-Ephratah, and West Seneca school districts.

While all of these forms requested basic demographic information of homeschool students, none of the school districts requested exactly the same information or used the same form. However, the reason behind the request was always the same.

Each HSLDA member family was told that their child’s information was needed to comply with a new data reporting system developed by the New York State Education Department (NYSED). Troubled by these requests, each of these families contacted HSLDA in order to find out if this information was legally required. We told them that it was not.

What each of these school districts misunderstood was that the statewide student data system was designed by the NYSED to collect and maintain public school student records only. Homeschool records have no place in the statewide student data system.

The main goals of this system are to allow the public schools to meet state and federal accountability requirements as well as to improve curriculum, instruction, and student performance.

In order to organize the records, each public school student is assigned a unique statewide identification number. Since the public school system has to have demographic data to be able to assign a student an ID number, the districts that incorrectly assumed homeschool students should also be asked to provide this information.

HSLDA Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt contacted each school district and explained that none of the information was required under Section 100.10 of the Commissioner’s Regulations. Schmidt cited several documents and memos from the NYSED explaining the statewide student data system and pointed out that all of them stated that the system for was public school students.

All of the districts dropped their request for this information from homeschool students. HSLDA was also successful in having most of the information that the districts had erroneously collected destroyed or removed from their files.