A family who had been homeschooling elsewhere in New York moved to the Johnsburg Central School District during the middle of the school year. Even though they were not legally required to do so, the parents decided to submit both their notice of intent and the Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP) for all of their children.

They figured they would be saving school officials some time and smooth their transition into the new district.

Their first sign of trouble appeared when a Johnsburg official asked the family to send all of the children’s homeschool records from the previous district. Even though the family understood that the new district couldn’t legally require this, they decided to send in the reports they had submitted to previous district for this school year.

Unsettling Response

The family thought this request was so the new district could have a full picture of the whole school year. But the next email they received made them realize they needed to contact Home School Legal Defense Association right away.

The email to our member family read:

I shared your email with the superintendent, and he needs you to know you need to register with our school for your children to be considered homeschooled in our district. If you do not register in our district, the superintendent has no choice but to inform Child Protective Services. Please resolve this issue soon.

After reviewing this email, I immediately drafted a letter to the Johnsburg School District pointing out that the family had submitted all the homeschool paperwork that they were legally required to submit. I also informed the district that threatening the family with a CPS investigation if they didn’t register their children in school had no legal justification. I reminded the district that even the New York State Education Department has stated that homeschool parents are not required to register their children within the local school district in order to homeschool.

Lots of Laws, but They Don't Cover Everything

This clarification was necessary, because even though New York is the most regulated state in the country when it comes to homeschool requirements, it does not have a formal legal process for transferring homeschool records from one district to another.

While it is not uncommon for New York school districts to ask homeschool parents to register their children within the local district when homeschooling, there are not that many situations where a school district threatens to contact CPS if the family doesn’t do this.

Even so, we don’t take situations like the one in Johnsburg lightly. We informed the school district that we are prepared to defend our member family’s right to educate their children at home.

After we demanded that the district drop their threat to report the family to CPS, school officials have not bothered the family any further.  

In fact, the parents told me that the support they received from HSLDA gives them confidence to keep homeschooling their seven children who have yet to graduate. (Their oldest son plans to earn his diploma this year.)

"With many years of raising and teaching these kids ahead of us," the mom shared in an email, "we are just so thankful that you give us the peace of mind to be able to continue teaching our kids at home!"

The incident does underscore our advice that homeschool families stick to the letter of the law in their dealings with education officials. And if you receive a request from your district that you are not sure is lawful, please contact HSLDA right away.