January 27, 2014

School District Says Certified Teacher Must Evaluate Homeschool

Senior Counsel Dee Black answers questions and assists members with legal issues in Pennsylvania. He and his wife homeschooled their children. Read more >>

When a family from another state moved to Pennsylvania in October of this school year, they filed the required affidavit with the local public school superintendent to continue homeschooling their three children. Then they sought assistance from Home School Legal Defense Association when the homeschool coordinator of Central Cambria School District asked for a copy of the teaching certificate of the person who was to evaluate their children’s program at the end of the school year. Pennsylvania law requires that the home education program be evaluated at the end of the school year by a qualified individual, but not necessarily by a state-certified teacher.

HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt Black replied to the public school official, citing the law that sets forth the qualifications of persons who may evaluate a student’s educational progress in a home education program. These include “a licensed clinical or school psychologist or a teacher certified by the Commonwealth or by a nonpublic school teacher or administrator.” The nonpublic school teacher or administrator must have at least two years of teaching experience in a Pennsylvania public or nonpublic school within the last ten years. Additionally, the nonpublic school teacher or administrator and the certified teacher must have two years of experience at the elementary level to evaluate elementary students or at the secondary level to evaluate secondary students.

Black’s letter went on to say that regardless of the type of evaluator chosen by the parent to conduct the evaluation, state law does not require that the parent submit proof of the evaluator’s qualifications as a matter of routine. In our opinion, had the Pennsylvania General Assembly intended to require parents to submit this documentation, this requirement would have been included in the language of the statute. Only when there is a genuine question about an evaluator’s qualifications should the school district ask the parent to provide verifying documentation.

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