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June 20, 2017
School Officials Invent Outrageous “Homeschool Monitoring Requirements”
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A chilling letter to homeschooling parents in the Jackson County public school district listed the names of children and warned that failure to comply with new “homeschool monitoring requirements” could result in a court summons.
I have already responded to this outrageous threat.
The letter was part of a packet from the local public school district’s director of pupil personnel (DPP). Each packet was addressed to an individual family, naming the children within the family who were being homeschooled and asking parents to confirm whether they intended to continue homeschooling these children.
The packet also asked if any homeschool students in a particular household had graduated, completed the GED, or intended to enroll in traditional private or public school.
For children who will continue to be homeschooled, the DPP demands that the parent submit a notice of intent by August 4. If a parent fails to do so, the letter declares, “an educational neglect complaint will be filed against you in the Jackson County Family Court.”
This threat is just one of several ways in which the packet’s demands ignore state law and violate the “Best Practices Document,” a guide for officials dealing with homeschool programs. The Best Practices Document was written over 20 years ago by Christian Home Educators of Kentucky (CHEK) and the Kentucky Directors of Pupil Personnel Association. The Kentucky Department of Education has also advised local DPPs to follow this approach.
To begin with, the homeschooling statute has always been understood to mean that notice of attendance in a private homeschool program is to be sent no later than two weeks after the beginning of school within your local school district.
In Jackson County the first day for students is August 3, giving homeschooling parents the option of submitting their notice as late as August 17. Parents who start homeschooling later in the school year can simply submit their notice within two weeks from beginning their homeschool program.
Furthermore, the underlying principle of the Best Practices Document is that if parents submit their notice of attendance within the first two weeks of school then they are presumed to be operating a bona fide homeschool program in compliance with state law. The local DPP should only request attendance and scholarship records if there is evidence that a parent is not educating his or her children at home or if a report has been made that the children are not actually being taught.
In disregard of these principles, Jackson County is attempting to require that homeschool parents submit daily attendance records—with hours of instruction—by August 31, October 11, January 4, March 6 and June 13 this year. Officials are also seeking students’ grades for language arts, history, mathematics, sciences, and civics courses.
I have made it very clear to Jackson County school officials that threatening homeschool families is not acceptable. I have also informed them that implementing a homeschool monitoring program is not in line with the Best Practices Document and that HSLDA will vigorously oppose these plans. We expect Jackson County to shelve these plans but will closely monitor the situation.