Note: This article was originally published July 25, 2016. We are highlighting it because it recounts how some officials ask homeschool families to meet with them in person—even though the law does not authorize such a demand.
A Luzerne County member family was recently confronted by an unwelcome demand for a meeting to review their children’s academic progress for the 2015–16 school year.
In a telephone call to the family, the local public school superintendent announced that they could not just drop off a letter declaring satisfactory progress. This, however, is precisely what Pennsylvania’s homeschool statute (24 P.S. § 13-1327.1) requires the superintendent to accept: “an evaluator’s certification stating that an appropriate education is occurring for the school year under review.”
In 2014, Pennsylvania’s legal requirements were modified to eliminate a superintendent’s duplicate review of student records for the purpose of evaluating student academic achievement. Qualified evaluators (typically certified teachers) are required to review detailed student records, including work samples and test scores, and interview each student. The old requirement that superintendents make a separate determination with less information was redundant.
Even under the old law, however, a meeting with the superintendent was not required.
After receiving the superintendent’s misinformed demand, the family turned to Home School Legal Defense Association for assistance, expressing concern that this request was being made of multiple homeschool families in the district.
I wrote the superintendent and informed him that he has no legal authority to require a meeting with the family and asserted that the family was in full compliance with the law when they submitted their qualified evaluator’s certification.
The family has not received any further requests from the school district.
Despite streamlined legal requirements in Pennsylvania, unauthorized demands by overzealous superintendents and school officials are still far too common. While HSLDA encourages families to pursue a friendly, working relationship with school officials, we also encourage families to stay informed and contact our office when confronted with unlawful demands.
Our mission to protect and advance the right of parents to homeschool includes responding on behalf of families facing these demands and educating school district authorities on the current legal requirements for homeschooling.