After making the decision in September to homeschool their children this school year, several families in New York City are worried that they could be reported to CPS because it’s taking too long for city officials to process their paperwork.

One parent who submitted her notice of intent and individualized home instruction plan in the middle of September told me that she is worried her school might refer her to New York City’s Administration of Children’s Services (ACS), the agency that investigates child neglect reports. Her family still hasn’t received confirmation from the New York City Office of Home Schooling that her son has been withdrawn from the public school.

Her concern that she could be falsely accused of neglecting her child’s education is legitimate. It has happened to other families. (In fact, in 2016, HSLDA sued the city to keep these false accusations from happening again and in 2019 the judge actually had HSLDA monitor on a quarterly basis the city Office of Home Schooling’s response times to parents’ homeschool paperwork.)

Another parent wanted to homeschool because she was desperate to protect her 6-year-old son from being bullied at his local public school. But, without a reply from the Office of Home Schooling, she felt she had to continue to make him attend the school because she was so concerned that ACS would not understand why the paperwork was delayed.

What law says, what officials do, and our response

In New York, a parent can begin homeschooling at any time during the school year. State law requires that they notify their local school district within 14 days from beginning their homeschool program.

The New York City Department of Education, with 32 geographic school districts in the city, has centralized the submission of all homeschool paperwork with its Office of Home Schooling. The only exception is when a child with special education services is going to be homeschooled. Then a parent would report to District 75, which helps coordinate services for students with special educational needs.

While a parent should still notify their child’s local school of their intent to withdraw their child and homeschool them, the NYC Office of Home Schooling will transfer the student from their previously enrolled public school to homeschooling.

According to state law, this transfer should be done within 10 business days after a parent submits their notice of intent. While the NYC Office of Home Schooling has created an email address to expedite the submission and processing of notices of intent, we have heard from numerous parents who were still waiting for their children to be officially withdrawn from their public school more than 10 business days after their notice was submitted.

Whenever we talk with parents who submitted their notice of intent to the NYC Office of Home Schooling but are still receiving messages from their local school that their child is absent, we immediately act.

In most cases, we communicate with the NYC Office of Home Schooling and request that they process the parent’s withdrawal immediately. In a handful of situations this fall, we have notified our local affiliated attorney, Sean Eccles, who reaches out to the New York City Law Department in connection with our previous lawsuit.

To assist our member families, I also have contacted ACS to educate its caseworkers with the facts:  how long homeschool paperwork has actually been taking the NYC Office of Homeschooling—as opposed to the legal time frame in which it should complete the paperwork.

No homeschool parent who has followed the law should be threatened with an ACS investigation. Paperwork delays by officials that result in ACS visits are unacceptable, and we are again pulling out all stops to prevent this unfortunate trend from reoccurring in the Big Apple.