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October 31, 2017

These are all biology books.

District: Pick Any Science Course You Want—As Long as It’s Biology

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Tj Schmidt TJ SCHMIDT Contact attorney for New York

While homeschooling their high school daughter, a member family in Monroe County chose their curriculum for the 2017-2018 school year and submitted their individualized home instruction plan (IHIP) to the Spencerport Central School District. Because they were teaching all of the required subjects, the family expected to have no trouble with the district.

Just as they were beginning their academic year, however, the family received a letter from the assistant superintendent for instruction. The school official informed the family that they were not in compliance with New York law because they were teaching physical science.

The official instructed the family to teach life science (living environment/biology) instead. Since the family had joined Home School Legal Defense Association just a couple of months before, they contacted us for help.

After speaking with the family, I was shocked to learn that the school district rejected the family’s IHIP because they supposedly weren’t teaching the right science course! I reassured the family that, contrary to the school district’s claim, New York state law does not require teaching a particular course at a particular grade level.

Figuring that this would be a simple fix, I called the school official to talk with him about this situation. I couldn’t get in touch with him, however, so I left a message explaining the issue. I pointed out that New York law does not allow local school officials to dictate what courses homeschooling parents must teach. Instead, state law only requires that parents teach a total number of credits in various subjects through high school.

After following up with the school district several times, we were finally able to get them to acknowledge that our member family could teach the course they wanted to, instead of the life science course the district demanded.