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January 26, 2016

DPPs Demand School Records Reviews

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Two HSLDA member families in separate school districts were recently summoned by local public school officials who wanted to meet and review their private homeschool records.

YOUR ATTORNEY Tj Schmidt Tj Schmidt

A family in Paducah Public School District, an independent school district in McCracken County, had recently withdrawn their special needs son from public school and provided a notice of attendance to the appropriate official, known as a director of pupil personnel (DPP). Shortly before Thanksgiving, the DPP told the family that his office would be contacting them soon “to verify the establishment of [their] home school.”

In the beginning of December, the DPP followed up with the family, demanding that they “provide information to verify their home school as a bona fide home school.”

The DPP wanted a copy of their school calendar, a daily schedule of their homeschool, and evidence that the family’s children were receiving instruction in “core subjects.” However, according to state law the only documentation that a public school official may request is attendance records and scholarship reports. Nevertheless, the DPP stated that his office would contact the family to set up a time and location to “view” the family’s records.

Requirements and Questions

Meanwhile, a family in Owsley County also received a letter from their local DPP in early December, indicating that he wanted to review their homeschool records “to ensure that the requirements of compulsory attendance [were] being met.” He asked the family to contact him and set up a time to meet, so that the educational records could be reviewed.

In making these requests, the officials exceeded their authority in two ways—they asked for more documents than state law requires from homeschool families, and they ignored record-viewing guidelines established by their own colleagues.

Many years ago, the Kentucky Directors of Pupil Personnel and the statewide homeschool organizations at the time developed the Best Practice Document to address several legal issues and concerns about private homeschool programs. These guidelines presume that parents who report their intent to teach their children at home within two weeks of the beginning of school are operating a bona-fide school and are in fact teaching their children at home. The Best Practice Document approach is intended to prevent public school officials from demanding the submission of the attendance and scholarship reports from homeschool families unless there is evidence that a bona-fide homeschool program does not exist.

After being contacted by both families regarding this situation, HSLDA Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt contacted the offices of both directors of pupil personnel to clarify Kentucky law and the Best Practices Document regarding private homeschooling programs. HSLDA resolved both situations favorably.