September 24, 2007

Homeschooler Finally Receives Speech Therapy

Falcon School District officials refused to allow the Horne family’s 6-year-old child to receive speech therapy from the school district. The school officials argued that since the child was being homeschooled, he was not eligible. However, the Horne family was not operating under the homeschool law in Colorado, but rather, had their child enrolled in independent school. Since the Hornes’s son was a student formally enrolled in an independent school, he was in full compliance with compulsory attendance statute for independent school students under § 22-33-104.5(3)(g). The compulsory attendance statute states that a student need only be “enrolled in school.” The statute does not say that the student must “attend” the school.

Home School Legal Defense Association was involved in a 1988 case, People in Interest of D.B., 767 P.2d 801 (Colo. App. 1988), that was handed down by the court of appeals. The courts recognized the educational arrangements that independent schools could have, even if that educational arrangement involved parents teaching their own children at home under the supervision of the school. There are scores of independent schools in Colorado set up like this, serving students in various satellite campuses in their homes.

At the federal level, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act funds are administered by the states through local school districts and are to be available for all public and private special education students. A legal interpretation unfortunately has barred the special education funds for students operating under homeschool statutes throughout the 50 states. However, since the Horne family’s son was a private school student that was taught in the Falcon School District, the school was under legal option to provide speech therapy to him.

After months of discussion and negotiation, Falcon School District has finally begun providing speech therapy for the Horne’s son.