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October 4, 2016

County Demands Evaluation for Kindergartner


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School officials threatened to “terminate” a child’s homeschool program if the parents did not provide an evaluation for the previous year—even though the child was below the compulsory attendance age.

Tj Schmidt TJ SCHMIDT Contact attorney for Florida

Last summer, the member family had submitted a notice of intent to establish a home education program for their four children. On their notice they included their youngest child, even though the child was only 5 years old and they were not legally required to report.

A year later, realizing their mistake, the family submitted a new notice of intent for their youngest, now 6 years old.

In response, Clay County School District officials informed the family that they would still have to file an annual evaluation of their child for the 2015–2016 school year—or risk having their homeschool program “terminated.”

In Florida, a school district superintendent can only legally terminate a home education program in one very limited circumstance. That termination can only occur when a child has demonstrated a pattern of nonattendance while enrolled in the public school and then afterwards failed to meet the review by a portfolio committee designed specifically for this situation.

Nevertheless, the family reached out to HSLDA for help. Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt contacted the district’s homeschool coordinator on behalf of the family. Schmidt informed the official that the demand for an evaluation for the family’s underage student was not supported by state law.

Schmidt explained that while Florida law allows for children to enter kindergarten at age 5, it is not required. Schmidt pointed out that the member family had no legal obligation to even report their student until the following year. He suggested that instead of attempting to require the annual evaluation for a 5-year-old, their student’s record should simply be corrected to reflect that the child was entering the family’s home education program for the 2016–2017 school year.

After being contacted by Schmidt, Clay County informed the family that an annual evaluation for their youngest would not be required until the end of the 2016–2017 school year.