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February 8, 2016

Update: Counties Demanding Proof of Residency

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YOUR ATTORNEY Tj Schmidt Tj Schmidt

HSLDA is working with legislators and state activists in hopes of ending the rising trend of local public school board officials demanding proof of residency from homeschoolers.

As many of you have noted, this past year we have seen an increase in school boards insisting on this additional documentation from parents filing their mandated notice establishing a homeschool program. Several counties attempted to implement new policies requiring approval from school officials in order for homeschool parents to be deemed compliant.

Santa Rosa was the most recent school board to discuss such a policy. HSLDA has also written several letters on behalf of members in Escambia, Broward and Miami-Dade counties on this same issue.

HSLDA insists these requests for proof of residency are unlawful. And some officials have taken note.

Over the past few months, Santa Rosa has operated under a type of compromise. Homeschooling parents who refuse to provide this additional information are considered in compliance when they acknowledge receipt of a registered letter from the school board. The fact that a parent signed for the letter is taken by school board officials as proof of residency.

For a more permanent solution, HSLDA Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt has been working with Brenda Dickinson of Home Education Foundation to address this issue legislatively. While the Florida Department of Education already states that school officials cannot add to state law, we have drafted a bill (House Bill 835) that would make this crystal clear. Schmidt has offered his suggestions to make this bill as strong as possible.

While it is uncertain whether the bill will pass during this session, we will continue our work to protect the right of parents to educate their children at home without unlawful demands from local school officials.