Did the Record of Your Notice of Intent Just Disappear?
by Scott Woodruff • September 17, 2018
Because of a glitch at the Arkansas Department of Education, the record of your notice of intent has (at least temporarily) disappeared or become inaccessible if you filed your notice on or before July 16.
While no HSLDA member families have reported a problem to us as a result of this glitch, we are told that two families who are members of another organization were unplesantly surprised when a truant officer asked them why they had not filed their notice of intent!
Perhaps these were only isolated events. But if you were relying on the Department to safeguard the notice of intent that you filed on or before July 16, or if you want to be prepared in the event that an official knocks on your door (which could happen even for reasons not connected in any way to your notice of intent), read on!
What about My Records?
If you are wondering: “Is there anything that my family needs to do in response to the records glitch?” I have a couple of simple suggestions. If you have followed HSLDA’s advice and you have proof that you filed your notice of intent this year (like a postal receipt, fax confirmation, email evidence of delivery), you can relax. Just keep those in a place you can find them quickly.
If you do not have proof that you filed it, but you believe in good faith that you really did, you need to take some action. You have a couple of options.
The best option is: prepare another notice, using only the HSLDA notice form (available on our website). Write “duplicate” at the top, keep a copy for your records, and send it to your local superintendent in a way that gives you proof that you actually sent it.
For certified mail, return receipt requested, keep the mailing receipt and the green card that comes back to you. For fax, print off a copy of the delivery confirmation. For email, keep a copy of your email system’s evidence that it was sent (making sure you used the correct email address, of course). For hand delivery, have the school official who receives it initial your copy and give it back to you while you wait.
Proceed with Caution
While filing the notice with the Department of Education through their electronic filing system is seemingly easy, I’m not excited about it and don’t recommend it. A record that exists electronically can also disappear electronically!
Another option (though somewhat less desirable) is to contact your local public school officials and ask them if they have your notice on file, and if yes, ask them to send you something in writing or by email to confirm that they have it on file. One reason that this option is potentially undesirable is that if they say, “no, we don’t have a record that you filed your notice,” an awkward and potentially even dangerous situation could develop.
The least desirable option is to do nothing and hope for the best. While “the best” may really be what actually happens, who needs the stress of wondering if and when it will come back to bite you?
If you have not filed a notice this year at all, give me a call and we can talk about it. If you believe that none of the options I have outlined above are a good fit for your particular situation, give me a call.
If There’s a Knock at the Door
This is a great time for an important reminder to HSLDA members: If an official comes to your door, an excellent strategy is to tell them: “Wait right there. I need to get someone on the phone.” Don’t get into a discussion with them at all.
While the official waits outside on your front porch, call HSLDA at 540-338-5600 and tell our receptionist that there is an official at your door. We treat that as an emergency! She will promptly put you through to someone in our legal department.
For 35 years, HSLDA has been helping member families in these situations. Call us and put us on your team so we can work on this stressful situation together to maximize the likelihood of a good outcome. (We are even available weekends and evenings to help our members.)
I don’t give blanket guidance to homeschool families facing an official at the door—in part because no two situations are exactly alike. But rest assured that if you need us, we will be there for you.
The Arkansas Education Alliance recently sent out an email on the records glitch which gives some very interesting background details. If you read it, you will notice that their recommendations are different from mine. No problem. That means you have a choice as you decide for yourself how to respond.
(If you would like to read a copy of the email, contact me and I will forward it to you.)