Homeschooling in New York is not only highly regulated, it’s also subject to substantial oversight from public school district superintendents. Because of this regulation most colleges and employers in New York will not accept a homeschool graduate’s diploma unless it also comes with what is called a “letter of substantial equivalency” provided by a public school district, verifying the homeschooler’s graduate status.

This complicated standard can create additional difficulties for out-of-state homeschoolers applying to colleges in the Empire State. Since admissions officers in New York consider a letter of substantial equivalency standard, they will often demand applicants produce such a document regardless of the homeschool laws in the state where the student graduated. Many states do not provide any documentation affirming a homeschool student’s academic status.

Caught in the Middle

This explains the quandary that the Baldueza family faced when their daughter, Megellan, who graduated from a Connecticut-based homeschool program, applied for admission to the Culinary Institute of America, based in New York.

When Megellan’s online application portal informed her that she needed to take the GED, she was understandably confused. A GED is for students who do not have a high school diploma, and she had just uploaded hers. When Megellan asked her admissions counselor for clarification, her counselor said that she would need to have the diploma verified by a supervisor, since homeschooled transcripts are typically evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Mrs. Baldueza recalls that, upon review of her daughter’s high school diploma and transcripts, “They called her to tell her that those can be fudged by anyone and that she was now required to take additional tests to prove her grades.”

Megellan’s admissions counselor told her they needed documentation from her public school district that she had graduated from her homeschool program. However, Connecticut school districts do not usually provide such verification to homeschool graduates, as they consider parents to have the authority to issue transcripts and diplomas.

Megellan tried to explain this, but the college repeated its demand. They said Megellan sounded smart on the phone but needed to back it up, asking for in-depth information on her homeschool curriculum and textbooks. The admissions office assured Megellan that she would have been accepted already, had she not been homeschooled.

Looking for Help

At that point, says Megellan’s mother, “I called HSLDA and they came to our rescue.”

HSLDA’s legal team wrote a letter to the Culinary Institute on behalf of Megellan, informing them that Connecticut homeschool laws are completely different from those in New York.

We pointed out that Connecticut law recognizes the right of parents to provide instruction to their children, and that since homeschool programs are administered privately by parents, a homeschooled student’s records are also issued and certified by parents.

Consequently, homeschooled students who have complied with their state’s laws do have “a high school diploma or its equivalent” that the Culinary Institute required, regardless of the fact that Megellan graduated in an out-of-state homeschool program.

Once the college received HSLDA’s letter, Mrs. Baldueza says, “the very next day my daughter received an apology and an acceptance letter.”

 “This was the first time I’ve had to use HSLDA's legal services, and I’m so glad they were available to us,” she reflects. “We thank HSLDA for all their help and treating us like we mattered.”