Lately, we helped a homeschool family in Texas who was running into problems with the El Paso school district.
(Note: for homeschoolers in Texas, you know that’s kind of like saying “Water is wet.” In my experience, El Paso has a history of acting like homeschooling isn’t “real” education.)
Our member family has a son who is a homeschooled senior this year. Like a lot of seniors, he planned to take the ACT, a standardized test used for college admissions. (Note: the ACT is run by a nonprofit organization named ACT. So ACT can mean either the test or the organization. That’s not confusing at all.)
ACT grants fee waivers to families who qualify for financial assistance, and so the mother emailed ACT to request an application. ACT referred her to the local high school counselors—in other words, El Paso.
A Struggle to Communicate
She emailed several high school counselors at the local high school asking for the application, but the email was ignored. A follow-up email (that didn’t mention homeschooling) got an answer—a request for her son’s ID number.
When she explained that they homeschool (and consequently have no need for student ID numbers), the high school first said it could not help and referred her back to ACT, and then said it would look into how the family could apply for the waiver.
A month went by. No response came from either the school or ACT. Home School Legal Defense Association wrote a letter for the family to send to El Paso and to ACT.
There was no response for another month. Then in January, an El Paso school district counselor emailed the mom: “As a school, we must have the ability to verify our students’ eligibility before we can provide them with a fee waiver… I strongly recommend that you work through the homeschool network and contact ACT Customer Care in order to receive details about other ways to verify eligibility.”
So our member went back to ACT Customer Care, who again tried to pawn her off on El Paso, but then flat out said ACT would not issue fee waivers for homeschool students.
Thankfully, HSLDA found a contact in ACT who was sympathetic to homeschoolers’ concerns. After we supplied her with information about homeschooling and our member’s plight, we got an email back with a code for the fee waiver and an apology to the family that it had taken so long to process.
HSLDA has been around for 38 years now. In the early days, a lot of our time was spent protecting the right to homeschool from those who claimed it should be illegal. Now, while there are still some who make that argument, much more of our time can be dedicated to helping homeschool families succeed—like we did with this family in Texas.Honestly, that’s more fun—and probably a better use of time. If you would like to help us be there for the homeschool community, please join or donate today.