February 17, 2009

Random Portfolio Reviews Averted

For many years, Florida homeschool law has allowed public school districts to inspect the portfolios of homeschoolers with only 15 days written notice. Unfortunately, some school districts over time have misapplied this law by randomly harassing innocent homeschool families.

Recently, one of our Home School Legal Defense Association members met with a school official in Broward County, who personally told her that the county was planning to “randomly notify 100 families” that they must submit a portfolio for each of their children’s academic work for the school district to evaluate.

In a separate incident, public school officials also contacted one new homeschool family who was a member of HSLDA. The family had issues with their child in public school being threatened by a bully. Because of the extreme anxiety the child felt, the parents were able to obtain doctors’ excuses for the missing days of school. The family finally decided it would be in the child’s best interest to homeschool, and they properly notified the school district. However, the same school officials who would not deal with the bully decided to demand that the family come in to have their portfolio reviewed by a panel—as allowed by law.

HSLDA legal staff communicated to the school district that it was not appropriate to impose this portfolio review on a new homeschooler who hardly had the chance to begin. (The family had only homeschooled for a month.) The school district responded by cancelling the portfolio review.

Meanwhile, HSLDA Attorney Chris Klicka notified HSLDA members in Broward County that they might be contacted as part of the announced plan to do random portfolio reviews.

This caused a reaction by many of the homeschool families, some of whom contacted the school district. One member related to HSLDA how the school district now stated that they were not going to do any random portfolio reviews—it would be business as usual.

It seems the pressure that the school district received from concerned homeschoolers turned the tide, so that the school district abandoned their initial efforts to do random portfolio reviews.