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Pennsylvania

August 8, 2016

Superintendent Orders Homeschooler Back to 1st Grade

Superintendent Orders Homeschooler Back to 1st Grade

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DAN BEASLEY
Contact attorney for Pennsylvania

If you’ve ever tried pounding a square peg into a round hole, you know that it doesn’t fit very well. A Pennsylvania school official discovered this for herself when trying to force a homeschooled student into its public school student tracking system. HSLDA helped the school official understand what the unique benefits of homeschooling are and how state homeschool law embraces those benefits.

The student’s family, members of HSLDA, had filed the required affidavit notifying their local school superintendent that they would be homeschooling. They had listed their 8-year-old son for the first time because he just reached the age of mandatory school attendance, although he has already begun homeschooling and is ready to begin 3rd grade this fall.

School officials objected to the family listing their child in 3rd grade and refused to issue an “approval” letter. They insisted that the family teach him at the 1st grade level or document evidence of readiness for 3rd grade in the form of work samples or progress reports.

The family contacted HSLDA for assistance. HSLDA Attorney Dan Beasley called the school district’s Director of Teaching and Learning, highlighting the flexibility of homeschooling and warning that the rigidity of a public school student tracking system should not interfere with a student’s progress. He then explained that Pennsylvania law recognizes the right of parents to control their child’s education plan and determine the best grade level for each child. Parents are not required to seek “approval” from any school official before homeschooling.

During the phone call with Beasley, the director was quick to acknowledge that homeschool families should not be held to the same rigid requirements established for public school students. She expressed a desire to respect parents’ right to direct their children’s education and work amicably with homeschool families. HSLDA applauds the director’s decision to remove barriers from this eight-year-old’s roadway to academic success.

Individualized and Flexible

Every child is different and has a unique set of strengths, weaknesses, and interests. Just ask a group of kids, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and listen to the varied responses. Dads and moms know their children better than anyone else. Homeschooling equips parents to customize an education plan that meets each child’s needs and goals.

Similarly, homeschooled students are not required to learn at the same pace in every subject. Some students may excel in math and science but require a little more time and effort in English and social studies. Other students love history and writing but have trouble with numbers. Homeschooling empowers parents to encourage their children to pursue their dreams and shine in their favorite subjects while taking the time necessary to become proficient in all areas.

Pennsylvania law charges parents—not public schools—with picking the most appropriate grade level for each child. Even though Pennsylvania’s homeschool law is among the most restrictive in the nation, it still protects the unique flexibility homeschooling offers.

Homeschool students often excel academically, and parents should encourage them to flourish. There is no good reason to hold a student back trying to force them into compliance with public school bureaucracy.