September 10, 2001

HSLDA Combats Misapplications of Florida Law

At an upcoming meeting with Mary Lou Carrothers of the Florida Department of Instruction and approximately 120 public school officials, Home School Legal Defense Association will have a unique opportunity to reach virtually all of the state's school districts with an important clarification of the law.

HSLDA's legal staff has prepared a concise Questions and Answers on Florida Law that will be distributed by Florida Department of Instruction to all the public school officials in attendance-mostly "home school coordinators." The document clarifies areas of state home school law that seem prone to misinterpretation and misapplication by the public school districts. By bringing educators' attention to what the law actually says, HSLDA hopes to prevent further legal conflicts between school districts and home schoolers.

Questions and Answers on Florida Law is a response to a number of conflicts our members have had with school districts during the last few weeks. One recent example of a misapplication of the law happened in Miami Springs. The S family contacted HSLDA after their school district rejected two items the family submitted in compliance with state law: test scores for one son and a notice of intent for another son.

Under the law, parents who home school their children must provide "an annual educational evaluation in which is documented the pupil's demonstration of educational progress at a level commensurate with his or her ability." The statute further indicates, "the parent or guardian shall select the method of evaluation." The S family had selected the college entrance exam, the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT), and the results clearly demonstrated their son's academic proficiency. HSLDA explained all this in a letter to Miami Springs.

The district denied the family's notice of intent because no grade level was indicated. HSLDA also explained to the school district that Florida law does not require families to submit this information. One of the many benefits of home schooling is flexibility, which enables a parent-teacher to tailor the curriculum to the student's needs. As a result, the child is able to excel, often performing beyond his or her grade level and working at a variety of grade levels.

After receiving HSLDA's letter, Miami Springs School District accepted the S family's test results and notice of intent, as they should have done in the first place.