District Backs Away from Wrongful Probation Order
by Tj Schmidt • June 27, 2018
JoAnn Tippins couldn’t believe what she was reading. The letter from the City School District of Albany proclaimed in bold, italicized, and underlined text that her homeschooled daughter was being placed on probation.
At first, she was terrified. But then she realized just who she had to call—Home School Legal Defense Association.
JoAnn sent me a copy of the letter from the director of pupil personnel services. It stated (and this exactly how it appeared):
In the 2017-2018 school year your child’s test results should have been commensurate with those of an 9th graders. The results on The Iowa Test indicates s/he is testing below an 9th grade level in more than one subject.
Because of these test scores, the director stated she was “required to place your homeschooling program on probation for a period of two years,” beginning July 1. The director went on to inform Mr. and Mrs. Tippins that by June 18 “you are required to submit a plan of remediation which addresses the deficiencies in your child’s achievement.”
According to New York law a student’s score on a nationally normed achievement test “shall be deemed adequate if:
a. the student has a composite score above the 33rd percentile on national norms; or
b. the student’s score reflects one academic year of growth as compared to a test administered during or subsequent to the prior school year.”
JoAnn also sent me a copy of her daughter’s Iowa Test results, which showed that she had received a composite percentile score of 48—which was more than adequate. The only thing that JoAnn and I could surmise was that district officials had decided to place the homeschool program on probation because two of the daughter’s individual subtest scores were below the 33rd percentile.
I immediately called the director of pupil personnel services to discuss this situation and explain that the student should not be on probation. A few days later I received a message from the attorney for the district.
I then left a detailed message stating that a homeschool student who receives a composite score at the 48th percentile cannot be put on probation. I also pointed out that the New York State Education Department, in its Home Instruction Questions and Answers, states that a “student’s score on individual test subscores should not be considered in determining whether the program should be placed on probation.”
Within a few days the district’s attorney called me back and apologetically informed me that the district had made an error. The attorney assured me that the Tippins’ daughter was not on probation and that the district would be sending them a letter to this effect.
Apparently the district had recently had some staff turnover and the person in the office reviewing homeschool programs was relatively new in the position. I am pleased that we were able to quickly come to the defense of the Tippins’ homeschool program for their daughter and eliminate the probation order.