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School District Fakes It … But Doesn’t Make It

by Tj Schmidt • May 8, 2019

Oh, the difference having your own attorney can make.

That’s what a New York member family learned after officials in the public school district they had just moved to started making questionable demands and citing arcane sections of the state code.

Things began ordinarily enough.

In accordance with New York homeschool law, the mom promptly turned in her letter of intent to homeschool and began putting together her individualized home instruction plan (IHIP) to send into the district.

In the letter she received back, officials demanded that she and her daughter visit district offices in person in order to “register.” The letter also asked for all kinds of extra information, including the children’s race, language, and the parents’ employment information.

Officials also said the family had two weeks to submit their IHIP, even though state law allows four weeks from the day that parents receive the homeschool packet in response to their notice of intent to turn in their plans.

What the Law Says

Upon receiving all of this information, our member promptly contacted us to ask what she was legally required to do. We explained that New York law does not require homeschool parents to register their children or meet with school district officials.

I sent a letter to the school district telling them that their demands were unlawful and that the family would not be filling out all of the unnecessary paperwork or registering their children. I also asked the district to send verification to the family that they were in compliance with New York homeschool law.

Officials not only refused to comply, they doubled down.

The district wrote back to our member family, claiming that New York Education Law Section 3242 required that they register their children. Again they insisted the family come in to the office to meet with them.

Resolution

There were two problems with this. First, the statute that officials quoted deals with census data, and does not give a local school district the authority to demand a family register their children with the school district. The statute simply allows school district to request certain census information. The second problem was that even the New York State Education Department, in the answer to question No. 3 of their Home Instruction Questions and Answers, confirms that homeschool parents can refuse to meet with school officials.

I then called and spoke with the district about their second letter. The school official quickly agreed that the information requested was not necessary. A few days later the official sent our member family confirmation that they were homeschooling in accordance with New York law.

While census requests are not unheard of in New York, they have absolutely nothing to do with a homeschool family being required to register their student with their local school district. The fact that this school district tried to use the census provisions as a spring board to obtain the information that they wanted is dishonest, to say the least.

If you are unsure of something that your school district is demanding of you, don’t let them fake it with you. Get in touch with a homeschool attorney at HSLDA who can cut through all of the demands and tell you what the law actually requires.


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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