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New York

May 14, 2008

School Rejects Home Instruction Plan

A member family in the Island Trees Public School District contacted the Home School Legal Defense Association for help after they received several letters from their local school district rejecting their Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP) forms. The sole reason the IHIPs were not accepted was because district officials did not believe physical education was being adequately addressed.

Even though the parents had provided information that their high school age children were receiving regular physical education, and that they actively participated in a local gym, the district was not satisfied. What was required, according to the district, was that the IHIP state that physical education would be provided for 41 minutes every other day throughout the entire school year. The district also wanted the parents to document that this specific amount of physical education was occurring.

Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt contacted the school district’s attorney and pointed out that New York law does not require any of this. While a parent must provide for at least two units of physical education in high school, this is the total cumulative requirement for grades 9-12.

For instance, if a parent wanted to cover physical education in grades 9, 10, and 11, but skip grade 12, they could. As long as a total of at least two units were completed, a parent is not required to provide a physical education program every year.

There is also no legal requirement that parents indicate in the IHIP the number of minutes they will be doing any subject. The only time a parent must indicate how many hours of instruction occur is in the quarterly report. Even in the quarterly report, a parent is to state the total number of hours of instruction provided for the entire quarter; there is no requirement to list the hours in each subject.

After several conversations with the school district’s attorney, the school district relented and sent the family a letter stating that their IHIP was in compliance.