November 7, 2011

“Someone Who Didn’t Know the Law Must Have Answered the Phone”

When Gail Singleton (name changed to protect her privacy) submitted her notice of consent form for her youngest child, the Washington County Public Schools staffer told her that she must fill out the form every year for all of her children. That sounded wrong to her. A member of HSLDA, she contacted us for help.

HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff urged her to contact the staffer again and get the demand in writing. The staffer refused, but offered to send Gail new blank forms every year, with a copy of the homeschool regulations. Gail pressed her for an answer: Must she fill out the forms every year for every child? (All Gail’s children were in an umbrella program—not under the portfolio option.)

Finally the staffer admitted that the form did not need to be submitted each year. She said, “Someone else who did not know the law must have answered the phone the first time you called.”

Whether you are under the umbrella option or portfolio option, a form needs to be filed only once ever for each child—the notice of consent form. Your consent is deemed to continue as long as you homeschool the child. You don't need to consent year after year after year!

If you change from one option to another, you need to notify the school system of that fact, but you do not need to use a form to do it. If you are under the portfolio option, you need to notify the school system each year whether each child will continue to be homeschooled—but there is no form you must use to do it.

This candid admission of the staffer should awaken all Maryland homeschool families to the fact they simply cannot rely on school personnel for correct legal information. It is each family’s responsibility to educate themselves—either through asking the HSLDA staff, or using our extensive web resources, or through some other reliable source.