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May 10, 2016

“You Can’t Homeschool,” District Says

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A single parent decided it was time to make a change after her 8-year-old daughter was bullied at school. Enlisting the help of a veteran homeschool parent, she found out what she needed to do and joined HSLDA.

Tj Schmidt TJ SCHMIDT Contact attorney for New York

We sent her everything she needed, including the forms that we have created for our members, to pull her daughter out of the Schenectady City School District and submit a notice of intent to homeschool. She did this on April 18, with less than eight weeks remaining in the school year.

Two days later she called us for help.

Despite having followed our advice, our new member encountered trouble from the district attendance officer. This school official told our member that she had to contact their homeschool program liaison and submit the district’s form to begin homeschooling. Our member was also told that she had to submit the individual home instruction plan (IHIP) as soon as possible. Even more troubling, one of our member’s older children, who was enrolled in the public school, came home and told his mother that the attendance officer had asked him why his younger sister was being homeschooled.

False Deadline

After learning this, HSLDA Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt contacted the school district’s homeschool liaison. Schmidt was told that the district needed the IHIP as soon as possible because the school year was nearly over. The homeschool liaison implied that homeschooling could not begin if there wasn’t enough time to submit all of the paperwork within the current school year.

Schmidt explained that a parent could begin homeschooling at any time. While New York law requires both school districts and parents to submit paperwork within a certain time period, parents have up to four weeks to submit their IHIP. Schmidt acknowledged that though it is theoretically possible for the school year (July 1–June 30) to conclude before the deadline for parents to submit homeschooling paperwork, this does not prohibit parents from homeschooling their child.

After discussing this family’s situation, the homeschool liaison agreed that they could homeschool their children and that the IHIP would be submitted sometime within the next four weeks. The family will then submit a final quarterly report and annual assessment. We don’t expect any further issues from the school district.

While many parents successfully withdraw their children in the middle of the school year, all too many of them end up experiencing some level of harassment from the local school district. A few parents have even endured social services investigations when their school districts refused to withdraw the children from public school. These school officials incorrectly assumed that they had to receive the IHIP and “approve” the homeschool before disenrolling the children. This is why it is so important for those planning on homeschooling in the middle of the school year contact us here at HSLDA. Each situation can be different, so talking with our staff can help eliminate some of the potential problems.