November 9, 2001

New York District Rejects 35 Home School Plans

As reported in a previous article, home schooling families in Rochester have been experiencing significant difficulty this year. According to the Rochester City School District, the Individualized Home Instruction Plans (IHIPs) submitted by 18 Home School Legal Defense Association member families for their children are deficient because they do not contain the same course content as that offered in the public school. In total, Rochester school officials rejected IHIPs for 35 children-an unprecedented number needing the assistance of Home School Legal Defense Association in a single school district.

HSLDA responded to the district's coordinator of home school instruction on behalf of our member families, pointing out that state law does not require the course content of subjects taught in a home instruction program to match what is offered in the public school. This understanding of state law is also shared by the New York State Education Department as indicated in its Revised Questions and Answers on Home Instruction published in July 1996. Any contrary interpretation would effectively destroy private education in all forms.

Even if course content information were required as part of the IHIP, Rochester had been at least two weeks late with the notices it sent to the families. State regulations require the school district to either notify the parents that the IHIP complies with the regulation or give the parents written notice of any deficiency in the IHIP within 10 business days of receipt of the IHIP or by August 31, whichever is later. Because of this, HSLDA took the position that Rochester officials had waived any right to complain about the IHIPs' contents.

Continuing difficulties such as these emphasize the need for revision of New York law governing home instruction programs. We urge our member families to support Senate Bill 4767 when the New York legislature reconvenes in 2002. This bill would eliminate the IHIP requirement.