An HSLDA member family in Florida was enjoying their summer vacation when they received an official letter warning them that their homeschool was in danger of being “terminated.”
The message from Alachua County Public Schools added that the family risked having officials take action against them unless they submitted the required annual student evaluation by August 1—a deadline that has no basis in state law. Alarmed by the tone of the letter, and the fact that they knew their annual assessment is not due until January of 2023, the family contacted HSLDA for help.
When we spoke with the family, they explained that they had moved to Florida in January 2020 and had submitted their notice establishing their home education program for their son. They abided by state law, which requires families to submit a notice to public school officials within 30 days of beginning a new homeschool program.
Though no specific deadline is mentioned, Florida regulations also call for homeschooled students to be assessed once a year. This family had their son’s evaluation completed late fall of 2020 and submitted it to the home education office in December 2020.
In 2021 it worked better for the family to evaluate their son earlier in the fall. They submitted this evaluation at the end of October of 2021.
The family was concerned that by submitting their most recent evaluation early they had “lost” some time to conduct this year’s assessment. We assured them that this was not the case.
Historically, families have until on or about the anniversary of when they first established their home education program to submit a student assessment. I assured the family that they still could submit their evaluation for this year in January of 2023.
Unfortunately, the letter from Alachua County ignored all of this. The threatening message also misconstrued state law—officials do not have the power to “terminate” a homeschool program.
State regulations do insist that students demonstrate educational progress commensurate with their ability and provide for remediation if this standard is not met. Parents can also face criminal sanctions if they fail to comply with compulsory education laws.
After gathering all the relevant information, I wrote a letter to Alachua County and corrected their assertions. I reminded them that the family had submitted their notice establishing their home education program in January 2020.
I also pointed out that by submitting their previous evaluations earlier than required, the family did not lose any time for the next evaluation. I assured the district that the family would submit the evaluation for their son by January of 2023.
I also cautioned Alachua County about threatening families with termination of their home education program, especially when there is no legal basis for their demands. I insisted that the home education office send a letter to the family to confirm that
they are in compliance. We expect the family to receive this letter any day.