The summer months typically deliver an increase in unusual—and mistaken—claims by public school officials erecting extra bureaucratic hurdles for families to navigate in order to start homeschooling.
We realize, of course, that public school officials face tremendous challenges in finding the best way to keep students safe and learning during the COVID-19 era. Many of America’s largest school districts have simply decided not to open their classrooms, but have switched completely to distance learning.
However, this year, as we witness an unprecedented surge of families switching to homeschooling, the misinformation too is in flood tide.
One of the more outlandish examples occurred recently in New Mexico.
Multiple parents in that state’s Lovington Municipal School District were told that, before they could remove their children from the public school rolls, they needed to visit the school office for an exit interview.
Other parents were asked to call the school office and answer a few questions about their homeschool program. Officials said they needed to confirm that new homeschool parents had obtained curriculum and that they were prepared to homeschool their children.
For the record, in order to start homeschooling in New Mexico, all you have to do is submit a simple notice of intent to the state education department. If your child was previously enrolled in public school you may need to withdraw your child as well.
Official Phone Calls
In Indiana, officials in several different school corporations have told parents that they must fill out the non-accredited nonpublic school withdrawal form that is only for high school students. Most of these parents were withdrawing elementary school students.
A family in the state’s Plymouth Community School Corporation was repeatedly harassed by school officials, receiving up to three calls a week. In these calls the respective school principals urged the family not to pull their children out of the district. The last straw was a 30-minute call warning that if the family did not forego homeschooling, officials would “contact the state and see what they have to say about this.”
In Hawaii, parents who had already withdrawn their children and filed the homeschool paperwork were strongly encouraged by Pearl City Elementary officials to sign up for the public school at home program.
In Miramar, Florida, the local public school posted information informing parents that kindergarten was mandatory. The school threatened parents that if they homeschooled their children in kindergarten this year they wouldn’t be able to be enrolled next year in the public school’s 1st grade. This is completely untrue.
Over the past few weeks parents in several states have reported being denied access to their children’s school records in retaliation for their decision to homeschool. For a parent in Indiana’s Rockville Community School Corporation, it was not until they mentioned that they were a member of HSLDA that the school principal called and apologized, stating that the records would be in the mail as soon as possible. The principal’s excuse was that they were experiencing a mass exodus from the public-school system.
At least one family in Orange County, Florida received notice that their son was automatically enrolled in the virtual public school program. We have also had reports that several homeschool parents in Duval County, Florida have had their children enrolled in the virtual public school program. Some parents were told that this was a glitch, while others were told that this happened “because everyone is homeschooling now.”
HSLDA expects these situations, and other similar problems, to continue as more parents pull their children out. Our staff are all dedicated to helping every parent understand what is legally required for them to begin their homeschool program for whatever reason. Whether for one year or longer.
And our legal team is ready to assist any member family who experiences opposition in their decision to do what is best for their family.