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School Experiments with Unauthorized Science Assessments

by Tj Schmidt • March 19, 2019

It is not unusual in New York for a local public school official to demand more information from homeschool parents than what is required under state law.

The real tragedy is that many of these officials believe that they are entitled to any extra information they want in order to satisfy themselves that the children are being properly educated.

Allison, a Home School Legal Defense Association member, was recently told by the local assistant superintendent of public schools that in addition to the standardized test that her son needed to take at the end of the school year, he would also need to take a science assessment.

What the Law Says

Not recalling having seen this in any homeschooling regulations, Allison contacted us and inquired if her son would need to take a science assessment as well. We quickly reassured her that he did not.

Allison informed the assistant superintendent that her son was not required to take such an assessment. However, she assured the school official that she would follow all the requirements mandated by New York homeschool law.

The assistant superintendent insisted, by email and a phone call, that the only way her son would not need to take a science assessment would be if he was doing the Regents exam. (Public school students typically take several Regents exams in order to receive a diploma.)

He added that he could not think of any reason why homeschooling requirements would be any different from those demanded of public school students. At that point, Allison realized that HSLDA needed to reach out to the school district on her behalf.

Taking Action

I wrote an email to the assistant superintendent explaining how the requirements are different for public school students and homeschool students. I specifically quoted the homeschool regulations, pointing out what was required.

A little over an hour later, Allison let us know that the assistant superintendent had emailed her stating that her son did not need to do a science assessment as part of the annual evaluation.

We are thankful that the school district quickly saw the limitations of their authority. We only wish they had realized this before making extraneous demands of Allison.

Now, Allison can return to focusing on educating her son instead of adding individual subjects to the standardized achievement testing she was already planning on doing.

Thomas J. (Tj) Schmidt

Staff Attorney

Tj is an attorney and homeschooling dad dedicated to defending the rights of homeschooling families across the country. Read more.

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