Dozens of homeschoolers contacted HSLDA Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt last month after they received an email from the Dutchess County Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), claiming that parents are no longer qualified to administer the year-end student assessments required by law.

Like New York’s 36 other BOCES, Dutchess County BOCES is a regional administrative office that provides shared educational programs and services to multiple school districts. Some school districts contract with their local BOCES to manage the extensive homeschool paperwork required by state regulations.

Dutchess County’s email went on to imply that only certified teachers could evaluate students. Parents who intended to administer their children’s assessment were directed to “please provide your teaching certification area for approval.”

Setting the Record Straight

“Parents were very upset,” Schmidt reported. “Many of them had previously been approved by their district to conduct the annual evaluation of their kids themselves.”

New York law requires homeschool students to be assessed every year. Grade level determines whether the assessment is a standardized test or a written evaluation.

The law also specifies that these assessments must be administered by a certified teacher or “another qualified person”—which HSLDA interprets as meaning homeschool parents.

The message from Dutchess County BOCES arbitrarily ignored the second option for assessment administration, making their requirements more stringent than the state’s. 

Proper Interpretation

In response, Schmidt contacted Dutchess County administrators and explained that they had exceeded their authority.

“They both misstated and misinterpreted the law,” Schmidt said. “When it comes to this particular aspect of New York homeschool regulations, it’s the local school superintendent who should be making decisions. But because they are part of an administrative entity, the folks at BOCES tried to apply a broad-stroke policy.”

Schmidt’s clarification, along with support from the state organization Homeschool New York—Loving Education at Home and many homeschooling families, made a difference.

The day after hearing from our attorney, BOCES administrators sent a follow-up email correcting their earlier position.

Now, parents in Dutchess County can get back to helping their children learn and thrive.

Note: If you’d like to learn more about testing and assessing options for your student, we invite you to check your state’s requirements here, explore helpful how-to's and resources on our Testing and Evaluations webpage, or get a quick overview in this free on-demand webinar.