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May 9, 2016

Official Tries to Discourage Homeschooling

Tj Schmidt
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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“I was told by the school official that I was in violation of the law and that my son would be truant if I did not submit additional information.”

Tj Schmidt TJ SCHMIDT Contact attorney for Florida

As soon as I began speaking to this new HSLDA member family in Florida, I realized that I was going to be making another call. I knew exactly what needed to happen, because the story I heard was all too familiar.

After moving to Florida from Indiana in late March, our member family had researched state law to find out what options existed for homeschooling their son. Recognizing that they must notify local school officials that they had established a home education program, the family submitted the required information to Miami-Dade officials. They provided their son’s name, date of birth, and address in writing to the district. A week later, however, they received a letter demanding additional information.

While they had submitted all of the information required by law, it apparently wasn’t enough to satisfy local officials. (Some counties are stubbornly trying to force homeschool parents to provide more details and documentation, and Miami-Dade is one that we have been constantly battling in an effort to get them to follow the law.)

More Information

After receiving the letter from Miami-Dade, our member called the district and spoke with the current homeschool registrar. Our member was told that she was in violation of the law and that her son would be considered truant if she did not immediately submit proof of residency and proof of age. The phone call ended with the registrar threatening that our member’s son would not be enrolled as a home education student until this information was provided. While our member was correct to doubt that this could be legally required, she decided to submit the information the very next day.

On May 4 our member received a phone call from the registrar. While she acknowledged the district had received the proof of residency and proof of age, the official insisted that they needed even more information. She told our member that she now needed to submit proof of grade level and a letter of withdrawal from homeschooling in Indiana.

Even though our member informed the registrar that such a letter was not possible to obtain in Indiana, she was told her son would not be enrolled as a home education student until this information was provided.

Objection

As soon as our member finished telling me this story, I called the registrar. Unfortunately, she was gone for the day and I had to leave a detailed message objecting to the treatment of our member family.

The next day I spoke with a staff member in the Federal and State Compliance Office, which is responsible for home education students in Miami-Dade, and learned that our member’s son would be enrolled as a home education student.

Many homeschool families in Miami-Dade have encountered officials who frequently try to discourage parents from homeschooling, often questioning whether they could adequately educate their children and saying that they would never get into college without a GED.

Miami-Dade also has a habit of threatening to refuse to enroll children in a home education program without more information than the law demands. We continue to work towards having the district follow the letter of the law.