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Pennsylvania

April 22, 2013

HSLDA Pries Portfolio Loose from School District


HSLDA Senior Counsel Dee Black assists members with questions and issues regarding Pennsylvania homeschool law. He and his wife homeschooled their children. Read more >>

Earlier this month, Home School Legal Defense Association assisted a member family in the Williamsport Area School District who had been unable to obtain the return of the portfolio submitted for their son’s home education program at the end of the 2011-2012 school year.

State law requires homeschoolers to submit a portfolio of records to the local public school superintendent by June 30 of each year. The superintendent then reviews the portfolio and determines whether the student is receiving an “appropriate education.” The law also requires the superintendent to return the portfolio to the parent but does not impose a specific deadline for doing so. Legal principles would imply a reasonable time for return of the portfolio. Most superintendents return the materials within a month or two, prior to the start of the next school term.

In this case, the mother of the student had submitted the portfolio in early June 2012. Ten months later she still had not gotten the portfolio back, despite repeated requests made to school officials. She became concerned that the public school officials had lost or misplaced her homeschool records.

HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt Black sent a letter to the superintendent, asking that the portfolio be returned immediately. Black pointed out that the failure or refusal of a superintendent to return the homeschooling family’s property would constitute the tort of conversion (a civil wrong), making the superintendent and school district liable for compensatory and punitive damages. Less than a week later, the school district completed its review of the portfolio and returned the materials to the family. In a reply letter to Black, the school district’s director of student services stated that they would “make the necessary alterations here to facilitate prompt return of home school materials in the future.”

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