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Vol. XXV
No. 5
Cover
September/October
2009

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NEW YORK

District Requirements Exceed the Law

Two Home School Legal Defense Association member families in the Buffalo Public School District recently received a letter informing them that they had failed to submit necessary documents and requesting additional information.

One family had submitted their letter of intent for 2009–2010 school year a little early and were told that, because the family didn’t give enough information, the district couldn’t send them the Individual Home Instruction Plan (IHIP) packet.

However, the family had sent in all of the information actually required by the state homeschool regulations, using HSLDA’s notice of intent form.* The district was requesting additional information, such as the family’s reason for homeschooling, child’s grade level, date of birth, ethnicity, phone number, and the name of the previous school the child had attended. None of this information is required by law in the notice of intent.

The family promptly called HSLDA, and HSLDA Staff Attorney Thomas Schmidt contacted the Buffalo Public School District on their behalf. District officials admitted that they wanted this information to provide the family with specific grade level curriculum information as a “helpful” resource. Schmidt pointed out that the family could request this if desired and suggested that the district send the IHIP packet as required by law.

The official assured Schmidt that the district did not intend to imply that the family’s notice was rejected and promised to send out the IHIP packet immediately without requiring additional information.

The second family had recently moved to Buffalo from another state. They had immediately notified local public school officials of their intent to homeschool and were in compliance with all of New York’s regulations. However, the district sent them a letter requesting their annual assessments from the previous school year. The family explained that they did not have assessments to provide since testing was not required in the state in which they had previously resided.

Public school officials offered to waive this “requirement” if the family chose the standardized test option for this school year, even though the law allowed them to submit the alternative written narrative evaluation for all of their children.

Schmidt contacted an official in the district’s homeschool department, who acknowledged that the district couldn’t require last year’s annual assessment if the family had not lived in the district the previous year. The official agreed that the family could do the alternative evaluation and assured Schmidt that the district would notify the family of this option in writing.

— by Thomas J. Schmidt

* See “A plethora of forms”.