Over the past few months, a number of New York homeschool families have moved—some within New York, others out of state. Families move for many reasons: a better situation, a job relocation, or just to change scenery. However, a number of these families contacted HSLDA because their moves have triggered harassment—and even the occasional threat—from their local school district.
In one instance, a family who recently joined HSLDA informed the Chenango Forks Central School District that they had moved out of state and would be homeschooling.
They received an email from the local school principal that said, “Your children have not been in school, and by law we have to move forward with outside agencies as we still don’t have the necessary documentation on file.”
The “necessary documentation” that the school wanted was a records request from the new out-of-state school. However, for this to happen, the children would have to be enrolled in the new public school and then transferred to homeschooling. Not knowing exactly what “outside agencies” the school was seeking to involve, and not wanting to enroll their children in the local public school, the family contacted us for help.
In another instance, a family in the Valley Central School District received an email from a local school official who requested that the family provide her with the name of their out-of-state school district. She said she would “have to check on your enrollment there before I can exit you from our system.”
This second family contacted us for help because the state they moved to does not require homeschool families to interact with local school officials. Instead, homeschool families report to the state. Homeschool students are certainly not “enrolled” in the local school district.
And in yet a third instance, a member family who homeschooled for the 2020–21 school year and submitted all their reports to the Oceanside School District moved to another state over the summer. Since they were no longer homeschooling in New York, there was no need to communicate further with Oceanside.
Nevertheless, officials threatened this third family with “further action” if they didn’t tell the district where they had moved. Once they got the threatening phone call, the family contacted us for help.
And still other member families who moved from one New York school district to another were told that they would need to tell the old school district where they had moved so their children could be “withdrawn” or “dropped” from that school.
In each of these situations, we wrote letters on behalf of our member families and explained they were homeschooling elsewhere. We pointed out that New York law no longer has authority over a parent who has left the state. We suggested to school officials that the parents’ notice of their move was sufficient to enable the district to stop maintaining homeschool records for the children.
Upon digging deeper into most of these situations, it appears that most districts were trying to treat homeschool students like public school students. When a public school student moves to another state and enrolls in their new public school, a student record request is sent to the old school district. This allows the old district to transfer all student records to the new district and “remove” the student from their roster.
Most states don’t “register” a homeschool student into the public school in the same way a public school student is registered, even in those states where you must notify your local school district of your intent to homeschool your child. In New York there is no process for a homeschool family to transfer their homeschool program between districts.
We are working with Homeschool New York-Loving Education at Home (LEAH) to address these issues on a statewide level. We are hopeful that, at the very least, the issue of moving a homeschool program from one school district to another within New York can become less difficult for families.