Online Public School = Easy Button? Not So Fast
by Jill Baker • October 23, 2018
With the lingering effects of a summer move hanging over her, one Ohio homeschool mom evaluated her options and decided to try out an online public school program.
“I thought it would be a huge help,” she recalls. Online public schools tout their convenience and flexibility, so it seemed a logical conclusion.
The reality she described was quite different: “I felt I had acquired another job as an administrative assistant in the public school, making sure the kids were simply getting assignments done when there could be more worthwhile assignments they would be learning.”
As the daughter of two public educators, she has long valued education, becoming a certified Montessori teacher and helping teach in two startup schools before homeschooling her own children. “You know [children] have mastered content by being able to teach it themselves,” she says.
Checking off the Boxes
Now her children were stuck in a program focused on checking off state requirements. One child had six science books so that his curriculum covered all the mandates.
Rather than helping her or the children, “it was so complicated,” she shared.
She and her husband determined it was time to withdraw and resume homeschooling. Aware of Home School Legal Defense Association through their various homeschool groups, they decided to join after their interaction with a particular school official.
“I felt like she was always trying to treat me like I was doing something wrong, and I might need backing,” the mom said.
Sure enough, after withdrawing their daughter, they received a call from the school official informing them that if they did not provide proof of schooling within 24 hours they would be reported to the state.
“I was really glad I hadn’t waited!” the mom told us. She immediately reached out to HSLDA regarding the school’s demand and spoke with HSLDA attorney Mike Donnelly, who assists Ohio families.
Bringing the Children Home
Donnelly sent a letter to the school official clarifying that the family’s daughter was currently enrolled in an Ohio private school (one of the options available to Ohio families who educate their children at home) and that two other children were to be unenrolled from the online school as well because they were being enrolled in the same private school as their sister.
Shortly thereafter he spoke with the school superintendent, who cordially informed him that the matter was being closed.
“Often, school officials get caught up in checking their boxes,” Donnelly states. “But this red tape can unnecessarily inconvenience and intimidate homeschool families, especially when an official issues an ultimatum.”
This family agrees.
“Mike wrote a letter for us, and we were very grateful to have him contact the school instead,” says the mom.
The dad was also pleased that HSLDA took this burden off his shoulders.
“I had a smile on my face when Mike told me, ‘This is what we are here for. You have a problem. We will solve that problem.’ Having an attorney resolve this made all the difference to my peace of mind.”
Donnelly recommends that families contact HSLDA as soon as they have any request from a school official.
“Don’t try to handle it yourself until they’re threatening truancy,” he says. “Join HSLDA now if you aren’t already a member, so that if you do get that school contact, we can resolve it early.”
HSLDA’s legal teams have created a number of resources so that you can be sure you are in compliance with your state law. Our state law summaries give you an easily understandable, step-by-step guide for how to homeschool in your state. And HSLDA members have access to state-specific forms and legal teams for any additional questions about their state.