June 23, 2011

School Districts Impose Additional Portfolio Review Requirements

Close to the end of the 2010–11 school year, two member families called on Home School Legal Defense Association for assistance when their school districts attempted to impose unauthorized requirements on their portfolio reviews.

Tunkhannock Area School District sent a letter to all supervisors of home education programs telling them that their portfolios would not be reviewed unless they were accompanied by a completed checklist devised by the school district. It was bad enough that the school district insisted on completion of the checklist, but what was worse was that the checklist included items for the portfolios not required by state law as follows: (1) a copy of the affidavit previously submitted to the superintendent at the commencement of the home education program, (2) evidence of the evaluator’s qualifications, (3) evidence of completion of both days and hours requirements for a home education program, (4) the name of the person administering any required standardized test, and (5) verification that the objectives developed by the school district for each subject were met. HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt Black wrote the school official who authored the letter and told her that completion of the checklist and the other items were without any legal basis and did not have to be submitted to the school district. This resolved the difficulty for our member family.

In early June, the New Castle Area School District mailed a letter to an HSLDA member family, telling them that, “each year an interview must be conducted with each supervisor of a Home Education Program.” The teaching parent was asked to contact the school district and schedule a time for the interview, which was associated with the superintendent’s review of the portfolio compiled for each student. Black wrote a letter to the school official who contacted our member and told him that state law governing home education programs did not require parents to meet with public school officials at any time for any purpose. While the supervisor of the home education program must submit a portfolio of records and materials to the superintendent at the end of the school year (June 30), the supervisor may not be compelled to be present when the portfolio review is conducted. After receiving Black’s letter, the school district dropped its insistence on the meeting with the parent.