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June 5, 2006

Wethersfield Says Notice Of Intent Mandatory

Home School Legal Defense Association assisted a member family during the 2005-2006 school year after the assistant superintendent of Wethersfield public schools insisted that the family file a notice of intent form developed by the local school district. HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt Black replied on behalf of the member family and explained that the filing of the notice of intent is not mandated by state law.

Section 10-184 of Connecticut General Statutes Annotated requires a parent to send a school-age child to public school unless the parent “…is able to show that the child is elsewhere receiving equivalent instruction in the studies taught in the public schools.” A parent choosing an educational option for a child other than public school is not required by this statute to take the initiative to show public school officials that the child is receiving equivalent instruction. Instead, the parent must be able to show that the child is receiving equivalent instruction in defense of any court proceeding in which the sufficiency of the instruction is being challenged. Of course, any such court proceedings should not be initiated unless there is credible evidence that the parent is failing to provide equivalent instruction. The mere fact that a child is not enrolled in public school does not indicate that the child is not receiving equivalent instruction in the studies taught in the public schools.

On November 7, 1990, the Connecticut State Board of Education adopted a policy containing suggested procedures for home instruction. The State Department of Education deems compliance with these suggested procedures as satisfying the equivalency requirements of Section 10-184. But these guidelines are not law, so parents may not be compelled to comply with them. Parents may decide to comply with the law by being able to show that their child is “elsewhere receiving equivalent instruction” under Section 10-184.

The majority of parents conducting home instruction have elected to comply with the suggested procedures and have submitted a notice of intent for each of their children, utilizing the form developed by the Connecticut State Department of Education at the time the guidelines were established. HSLDA strongly recommends that parents follow the suggested procedures in order to avoid questions of “equivalent instruction” such as teacher qualifications, course content of subjects taught, and methods of determining academic progress. Following the suggested procedures is not overly burdensome and generally precludes problems with public school officials.