Keeping the Homeschool Notice Simple—and Legal
by Tj Schmidt • August 1, 2018
In states that require some sort of notice or letter from parents announcing their intent to homeschool, helpful reminders from officials around this time of year are appreciated. Intrusive questions, unlawful demands, and implied threats are not.
Homeschooling parents have enough to do in assembling curriculum, motivating students, and planning for a new academic year. That’s why I spent quite a bit of time the past few weeks trying to rein in officials in various Kentucky school districts who were making demands of homeschool parents that aren’t supported by law.
I learned of these concerns after parents began receiving letters from their local public school districts that are typically sent over the summer break.
These letters usually acknowledge that the family was previously homeschooling their children, and remind the family that they are required to submit a letter or notice of intent if they intend to continue homeschooling. While most districts are simply attempting to be helpful, a handful of school officials use this opportunity to demand information and records that are not required by state law.
Families in several counties received these letters insisting that homeschool parents had to submit the notice of intent before school even started. Paducah Public Schools demanded that parents provide the notice by July 30. Grant County Schools insisted that the notice of intent be submitted by July 31, while Glasgow Independent Schools and Harlan Independent School District said the notice had to be in no later than August 1. Nicholas County Schools told parents that the notice must be submitted 10 days prior to the beginning of school.
Under Kentucky law homeschool parents may submit their notice of intent within two weeks of the beginning of school and still be presumed to be operating a bona-fide private/homeschool. As most school districts in Kentucky begin the first or second week in August, homeschool parents can submit their notice by the middle or towards the end of August.
For Kentucky members
Check your local school district to learn when they start. Homeschool parents can submit their notice after the date their local district begins school, but they won’t have the benefit of the presumption of operating a bona-fide private/homeschool.
Many of the districts that send these reminders also include a notice of intent form for homeschool parents to return. Some of these request additional information. The most commonly requested information is students’ date of birth, grade level, and the family’s telephone number.
While a parent may provide this information, it is not legally required. Among the districts requesting this type of information were Campbell County Schools, Bowling Green Independent School District, Grant County Schools, Madison County School District, Paducah Public Schools, and Scott County Schools.
We also received reports from the Christian Home Educators of Kentucky (CHEK) that some school officials were telling homeschool parents that they had to be “approved” to homeschool their children. These districts included Edmonson County Schools and Fayette County Public Schools. Pike County has attempted to request copies of homeschool parents’ driver’s licenses.
A couple of school districts even demanded information on the curriculum that would be used in the homeschool program. Harlan Independent School District asked for this information in their Home School Notification Form.
But Spencer County Public Schools seems to have come out on top (or bottom depending on your perspective)!
Not only did Spencer County officials state that parents had to submit a “home school application” to notify the superintendent, but they also demanded a “proposed calendar showing 175 six (6) hour instructional days, which will total 1,050 instructional hours” and a “curriculum list for each student ... (that) will include the subjects being taught to the home schooled child and the instructional materials used for each subject area.”
Spencer County ended with a threat that “[a]t the end of the school year, you may be required to send in a Student Academic Record for the school year for each child in your home school.”
I wrote to Spencer County Public Schools. I informed them that parents don’t “apply” to educate their children at home. I also pointed out that, contrary to what officials had written, homeschool parents are not required to submit a school calendar but are only required to provide 1,062 hours of instruction over a minimum of 170 days.
I made it extremely clear in my letter that Kentucky case law prohibits the Commonwealth from dictating the curriculum to be used in any private school, including homeschools, and that no such list of the curriculum needed to be provided. Finally, I warned Spencer County Public Schools that any attempt to request a “Student Academic Record” from a homeschool parent would be opposed unless it was in accordance with Kentucky law and current policy agreed upon by the Kentucky Directors of Pupil Personnel (otherwise known as The Best Practice Document).
We expect that all of the districts where we have written letters pointing out their overreach or outright violation of Kentucky law will come into compliance. However, we will continue to monitor these, and other districts, to ensure they follow the law.