If you’re the parent of a child with special needs who is switching to homeschooling, one thing to remember is that officials can’t force you to keep getting services through the public schools.
A case I helped a new homeschool mom with several years ago illustrates how the law gives parents the freedom to choose the services they believe are best for their children.
The mom had obtained therapy services for her preschool child through the local public school system in north-central South Dakota. She later withdrew her child from those services, sought private services instead, and began homeschooling.
Several months later, school staff sent her an email saying “the state requires” that the child submit to a developmental test.
After the mom asked HSLDA for help, I looked into the situation and doubted whether any such test were truly “required.” I wrote the staff member and asked her to tell me what state or federal law or regulation required a homeschooled child who was previously receiving special services through the schools to submit to a developmental test.
The staff member promptly wrote back, apologized for causing confusion, and agreed that no such test is required.
In a landmark case HSLDA attorneys handled in 2006, a federal court of appeals ruled that once a homeschooled child is withdrawn from public school, he or she is no longer required to submit to the school’s IEP procedures. Today this case, Fitzgerald v. Camdenton R-III School District, stands as a mighty wall, protecting homeschool families who have children with special needs from unwanted involvement with public schools.
Note: A version of this article was originally posted in 2015.