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January 6, 2014

Homeschool Affidavits: Health and Medical Services/Immunization Requirements

Senior Counsel Dee Black answers questions and assists members with legal issues in Pennsylvania. He and his wife homeschooled their children. Read more >>

Believe it or not, the most frequent legal problem in Pennsylvania with which Home School Legal Defense Association assists our member families has to do with the documentation required to be submitted to school districts about (1) immunizations and (2) health and medical services received by a child in a home education program. Health and medical services include such things as medical and dental examinations, vision tests, hearing tests, height and weight measurements, and tests for tuberculosis. The homeschool statute says the parent must file a notarized affidavit with the superintendent which sets forth certain information, including “evidence” that the child has been immunized and has received the health and medical services required for public school students. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, this evidence must be in the form of separate documentation attached to the affidavit. HSLDA has a somewhat different understanding of the law.

While the courts have not ruled on this issue, our view is that sufficient evidence of receipt of health and medical services may be shown by a statement in the notarized affidavit. The law does not state that any additional documentation of these services must be attached to the affidavit or otherwise submitted to the school district. While state law requires school districts to maintain health records for public school students, the homeschool law only requires that evidence be submitted to the superintendent each year that the services have been received. Many homeschoolers object to providing additional personal information based on privacy considerations.

The law is different for what documentation must be submitted by homeschoolers to the school district as evidence of immunizations. Section 23.81 et seq. of the Pennsylvania Administrative Code relating to the immunization of school children expressly includes children in home education programs. These provisions require that a certificate of immunization form furnished by the Pennsylvania Department of Health or another record of immunization be submitted to the school district for homeschool students. Although the information regarding immunizations for a child may not have changed from year to year, state law appears to require the filing of this documentation every year along with the affidavit.

State law recognizes the right of parents to claim a religious exemption from immunizations and health and medical services. HSLDA has developed a form for use by our members who wish to claim an exemption from either or both of these. A medical exemption from immunizations is also available if a physician provides a written statement that specified immunizations may be detrimental to the health of the child. These documents should be filed with the superintendent along with the affidavit.

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