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New York

June 15, 2009

School District Attempts to Require More than Law Allows

Two member families in the Buffalo Public School District recently received letters requesting additional information or informing them that they had failed to submit necessary documents.

One family had submitted their letter of intent for 2009–2010 school year a little early and were told that because the family didn’t give enough information, district officials couldn’t send them the information packet.

The family had sent in all of the required information on HSLDA’s notice of intent form. What Buffalo public schools wanted the family to do was to fill out a form requesting the following:

  • the reason they were homeschooling,
  • the child’s grade level,
  • date of birth, ethnicity, phone number
  • and the previous school they had attended.

None of this information is required in the notice of intent.

After HSLDA Staff Attorney Thomas Schmidt contacted school district officials, they admitted that the main reason for wanting this additional information was to provide specific grade level curriculum information as a help to the family. Schmidt pointed out that the family could certainly request this if desired and suggested that the school district send the Individual Home Instruction Plan (IHIP) packet as required by law. The local official assured Schmidt that the district did not intend to imply that the family’s notice was rejected and promised to send the IHIP packet out directly without requiring any additional information.

The second family had recently moved to New York from out of state. They had immediately notified local public school officials and were in compliance with all of the regulations. However, they received a letter in which the school district requested their annual assessments from the previous school year. The family explained that they did not have assessments to provide since they were not required to do them where they had lived.

The family understood from public school officials that they would “waive” this requirement if the family chose the standardized test option for this school year, even though they had a right to submit the alternative written narrative evaluation for all of their children if they had wanted.

After contacting HSLDA, Schmidt called the Buffalo public school district and spoke with an official in the Home School Department. Once Schmidt explained the situation again, the official acknowledged that they couldn’t require last year’s annual assessment if the family had not lived in that school district in New York. The official agreed that the family could do the alternative evaluation and assured Schmidt that they would write a letter to this effect to the family.