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Homeschooling: Special Needs
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Two Steps for Protecting Your Special Needs Homeschool

HSLDA believes that homeschooling may be the best way to meet most special learning needs, and we are delighted to assist dedicated parents in this endeavor. Our experience in defending homeschoolers and in monitoring legislation has shown us that the battlefront for homeschooling children with special learning needs is sometimes a heated one.

In addition to complying with the homeschool laws of the state of your residence, there are two steps that we recommend our members take to help us defend their homeschools. As you read through these suggestions, remember that it is best to choose a course of action that fits the severity of your child’s special learning needs.

1. Arrange for Regular Evaluations and Document Your Child’s Progress.

Whatever the severity of your child’s special learning needs, it is important to keep accurate records demonstrating how you are meeting these needs and how your child is progressing. Much of your success in defending your homeschool against any legal challenges may hinge upon your personal determination of what is best for your child and upon your keeping accurate records.

One of the most important elements of your recordkeeping should be documentation of periodic evaluations of your child’s educational progress. As a general guide, the more severe the special learning need, the more frequent and thorough the evaluations should be.

There are several options for performing evaluations. Our Sample Education Progress Evaluation form can help you picture the kind of information that would be valuable to document. It is best to keep all of your records concerning each special needs child for a minimum of three years or until the child is beyond compulsory school age.

2. Obtain Assistance in Meeting Your Child’s Special Needs

If any of the following are true of your child, we suggest that you obtain some form of assistance.

Your child:

  1. has received special education services in this current school year,
  2. has been enrolled in special education services for the coming school year,
  3. has been evaluated and diagnosed as having a special learning need,
  4. is functioning substantially below grade level,
  5. has a physical disability that significantly hinders his or her ability to learn, or
  6. has significant educational difficulties that have been observed but not professionally diagnosed.

If, after reading this list, you determine that you do need assistance, you will next need to determine what kind of assistance to obtain. As parents, you are intimately acquainted with your child’s needs and are best able to determine what specific help will be most beneficial. In general, the more severe your child’s special learning needs, the more assistance you should obtain to help meet these needs. We have provided the following information for you to consider about some options.

Educational Consultants

Because of the legal complexities involved in dealing with schools and government agencies, one of the safest things you can do to protect your homeschool is to obtain the services of a special needs educational consultant.

This consultant can be anyone who has either credentials or experience in the same area as your child’s special need. Preferably, this person should not be directly related to the child (i.e. parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc.). The consultant should be in contact with your family a minimum of four times during the school year to document your child’s progress.

To find a consultant, here are some possible sources:

FRIENDS. You may contact personal friends who could assist you or who might know of someone who can.

SUPPORT GROUPS. Contact your local or state support group for the names of individuals who work with families with special needs children.

SPECIALISTS. Families who have children with special needs often have used the services of a number of specialists. Individuals who provide their services to public schools may also provide their services privately.

COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES. Some colleges and universities have programs that could benefit families with special needs children. Please be aware that they may request your permission to use the results of their work with your child in research-related projects.

Private Educational Programs

The next most beneficial thing you can do to protect your home school is to secure regularly scheduled assistance and/or evaluations for your child through a private program.

Public School Programs

These include any services funded by state or federal dollars though your local school district, whether the services are provided in your own home or at the school.

Considering Public School Programs: In general, HSLDA has found that it is better if families do not use the services offered through their local public school. We have observed that many families have found themselves mired in legal difficulties as a result of their involvement in public school services.
Mother & Son

Currently Enrolled: If your family is currently receiving public special education services, you may want to establish a goal to meet all of your child’s special education needs eventually through private sources. We are aware that many families have previously enrolled their child in their local public school’s special education program and, now that they are homeschooling, they would like to retain these free public services. We understand that as a matter of economics and ease of access, free public school services are very attractive. We also understand, however, that regulatory strings may come attached to these programs. Generally, we find that the longer a family uses these programs, the tighter the strings of control become.

HSLDA will do everything it can to protect a member family’s right to homeschool a child who has special learning needs. Home School Legal Defense Association members are welcome to call our office and speak with one of our special needs coordinators for assistance with the above-described steps.

This information is designed to assist families in establishing the safest legal environment possible for their homeschools. These recommendations do not constitute legal advice.

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