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Pennsylvania

July 11, 2013

Philadelphia Wants Portfolios Before Homeschooling Begins


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

At the end of the 2012-13 school year, Home School Legal Defense Association assisted two member families residing in Philadelphia who had been told by the school district to submit year-end portfolios for their children, even though they were not yet being homeschooled. How did this happen?

In 2008, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed a law that authorized school districts of the first class (i.e., Philadelphia) to establish the compulsory school age at no lower than 6. But the new law also provided that the compulsory attendance age of 8 would continue to apply to “any student whose parent or guardian files a notice with the superintendent of the school district of the intention to enroll the student in a [home education program].” After The School District of Philadelphia lowered the compulsory attendance age from 8 to 6, parents who intended to formally begin homeschooling their children at age 8 notified the school district when their children turned 6 of their future plans. Unfortunately, in the case of the two HSLDA member families, the school district misunderstood these notices to indicate that homeschooling was already beginning for these children. This resulted in letters to the families close to the end of the school year reminding them to submit the portfolios with standardized test scores, evaluations, and work samples for the year.

HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt Black sent a letter to the school officials informing them of the 2008 law and the effect of the parents’ notice to the school district. He also reminded the officials that a home education program may only be commenced in Pennsylvania by filing a notarized affidavit with the superintendent, something neither family had done. This action resolved the difficulty encountered by our member families.

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