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July 17, 2017

This district ignored state homeschool regulations.

District Defies State Regs, Forces New Rules on Homeschoolers

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The Greenville Central School District has been pressuring one of our member families to turn over information that isn’t required by state law. When we pushed back, we found that they think parents have to seek their permission before they can start homeschooling.

Tj Schmidt TJ SCHMIDT Contact attorney for New York

We first learned about this problem in June, when the family contacted us and told us about the letter they’d just received from the district’s registrar. The letter said that before the registrar could process the family’s “home school application it is necessary to have your [sic] complete our registration/enrollment packet.”

It also said the family would need to provide custody papers (if applicable), along with three proofs of residency, such as a residential lease, income tax form, or driver’s license.

So I wrote back to Greenville Central School District. I pointed out that homeschool parents in New York do not have to register or enroll their children in the school district in order to begin homeschooling.

Protecting Rights

I also reminded the district that they had told our member family that all of this information had to be turned over before their “application” to homeschool could be processed. I informed them that parents in New York have a right to teach their children at home. Period. They don’t need to get the school district’s permission to do so.

About a week later, I received a letter from the school district’s attorney. The letter acknowledged that the registrar was incorrect, and that homeschool parents don’t need to register or enroll their children in the public school to be homeschooled.

However, the attorney went on to claim that the individualized home instruction plan “is a parental request for approval of the proposed program,” and that “district approval of the proposed plan and continued oversight … is required in order for parents to lawfully homeschool their child.”

This is an astonishing claim. It happens to be entirely wrong—there is no basis for it in New York law. And what makes it particularly galling is the fact that a stated purpose of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education in New York is “to assist parents who exercise their right to provide required instruction at home to such students in fulfilling their responsibility under Education Law, section 3212(2) (emphasis mine).”

We will continue to work to ensure that school officials and their legal counsel understand that the right of parents to educate their children at home must not be infringed.