District Database Causes Headaches for Homeschoolers
by Tj Schmidt • January 2, 2019
Homeschool families in Oregon have been facing increased pressure from their local education service districts (ESD) to use an online database or face the possible termination of their homeschool program.
The problem began after several ESDs in Oregon decided to upgrade their filing systems by adopting an internet-based homeschool database which parents could use to submit their notice of intent.
Clackamas Education Service District was one of the ESDs that sent a letter to all homeschool parents over the summer. This letter informed parents that:
We have adopted a new computerized homeschool database ... Your previous homeschool records have been converted into the new system. Your account needs a current email address and a password. If your students will continue to be homeschooled, they must be activated in the new system by the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.
More than the Law Requires
Several of our member families notified us that they felt threatened by what they saw as a new and unlawful requirement.
Oregon homeschool law requires parents seeking to educate their children at home to send in a one-time notice of intent to the local education service district. Home School Legal Defense Association provides a form for our members to fill out which we recommend that they mail to officials. Currently there is no standard electronic method for filing a notice, nor is there any legal requirement that parents file their notice via the internet or email.
Families in the Clackamas District understood this, and shared their concern that the new requirement could undermine the work they had already done to establish legal homeschool programs. Some families had submitted their one-time-only notices years ago and questioned why they should have to file again—or create online accounts simply for the convenience of ESD administrators.
We sent a letter to Clackamas on behalf of all our member families pointing out that the district did not have the authority to dictate homeschool rules that were not written in the law, and asking it to change the letter’s language to comply with the law. Oregon Christian Home Education Association Network (OCEANetwork) also contacted Clackamas objecting to the district demands.
Shortly after sending our letter out, we learned from several families that the Clackamas ESD had revised its policy regarding the new homeschool database. The new letter stated:
“We are asking that you to (sic) provide a current email address and a password of your choosing for your new online account.” And: “Please disregard any previous notice you may have received that stated that you are required to register your student(s) more than once with CESD.” (emphasis added)
In addition to Clackamas, there are several other ESDs which have adopted a new online system and are encouraging homeschool families to use them. Among these are the Willamette Education Service District, and more recently, Multnomah Education Services District. Fortunately, these last two have merely requested that families use their database instead of attempting to require it.
If your education service district attempts to require you to use an online database to report your home education program, feel free to let us know so we can help educate school officials on the law.