February 7, 2005

Homeschool Family Avoids Portfolio Review

For many years the Florida homeschool law has allowed school districts to inspect the portfolios of homeschoolers with only fifteen days written notice. Unfortunately, too many school districts have misapplied this law by randomly harassing innocent homeschool families. In October, the Lee County School District sent a letter to homeschoolers requiring them to submit their portfolios for the 2003-2004 school year in order to be "evaluated." The only reason given for the inspection was "due to the number of families enrolled in the program."

HSLDA Senior Counsel Chris Klicka wrote a letter on behalf of a member family to the school district explaining that this violated the intent of the law, since there is no probable cause that the family was not compliant with the law. Requiring them to submit a portfolio was nothing more than harassment and completely unnecessary.

Attorney Klicka also stated that the family was invoking the Florida Religious Freedom Act based on their belief that submitting to a portfolio review violated their religious conviction. After months of correspondence between HSLDA, the school district and the school attorney, the district finally relented. In a letter dated January 24, 2005, the school's attorney stated, "I've spoken with my client and they advised that they will wait until the annual evaluation for education progress to get the needed information from the family." This response shows that the school district has decided to "give up" pursuing the family any further concerning their portfolio review.

We are encouraged by this response, since it is clear that the school district was essentially acknowledging the family's right to exercise their religious convictions by not participating in the random portfolio review.

If any other HSLDA member families are opposed to participating in portfolio reviews, please contact our office, and we will intervene on your behalf.