May 24, 2013

Revolutionary Improvement I: IPI Arrives July 1

Scott Woodruff answers questions and assists members with legal issues in Iowa. He and his wife homeschooled their children. Read more >>

On May 22, the Iowa Legislature passed a bill that (with the governor’s anticipated signature) will revolutionize Iowa’s homeschool law when it becomes effective on July 1. Most families know very little about the bill, House File (HF) 215, because the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators (NICHE) and HSLDA opted for a quiet but effective legislative strategy and did not ask families to make phone calls.

The bill makes so many improvements to the homeschool law that rather than try to cover them all in one article, HSLDA is going to present a series of articles. Here’s the first!

Under Iowa law, homeschooling has officially been labeled as a type of “competent private instruction” or CPI—a category that includes four separate education models: homeschooling with a supervising teacher; homeschooling without a supervising teacher; homeschooling with the assistance of a public school; and non-accredited private schools.

HF 215 creates an entirely new option: “Independent Private Instruction,” or IPI, that is far simpler and involves dramatically less red tape than has historically been connected with CPI. Here is a side-by-side comparison.

1. File Paperwork only in Response to a Written Request

In the past, CPI has required the filing of a form at the beginning of every year. IPI does not require that a family file any routine paperwork. However, if the local school superintendent or the state Department of Education sends the family an individual written request, they must respond and report the child’s name, the primary instructor, the location, and the person or entity responsible for the instruction—but no other information.

2. No Supervising Teacher or Annual Assessment

Under CPI, homeschool families have been required to teach under the auspices of a licensed teacher (either one they choose or one their public school chooses) or submit a year-end assessment showing adequate progress. Under IPI, no licensed teacher and no proof of progress is required.

3. No Immunization Information or Blood Lead Testing

Under CPI, homeschool families have been required to submit immunization information the first time they file the CPI form for a child, and blood lead testing must be administered for children within certain age ranges. Under IPI, immunization information is never submitted and blood lead testing is not required.

4. No Number of Days per Year or Quarter

Under CPI, families must provide 148 days of instruction per year and 37 days per quarter. Under IPI there is no requirement for number of days of instruction.

5. New Required Subjects

Under IPI there are four required subjects families must teach every year: math, science, reading and language arts, and social studies. Families should keep documentation to show they are providing instruction in those four areas. Under CPI there are no subjects that must be taught.

Since IPI is not available until July 1, families should finish out the present year in compliance with the familiar CPI law.

The lengthy bill—which also deals with many education topics unrelated to homeschooling—can be read here in its entirety.

HF 215 is truly a gift from God for homeschool families. NICHE deserves a huge “THANK YOU” from the entire Iowa homeschool community for their awesome work spanning many years on IPI. If you are not a member of NICHE, please consider joining and supporting this worthy organization.

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