Homeschooling: Special Needs
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Special Education Provisions in the 50 States and Territories


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Most states with homeschooling regulations require nothing additional of parents who choose to home educate their special needs students. Likewise, the parental rights to homeschool are the same under the compulsory attendance laws in all of the states except Iowa, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. The additional requirements for special education homeschooled students in those four states are included in the summaries below.

About 90% of funding for public school special education programs comes from the state—not the federal government. Although the federal government will not allow its Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) money to go to homeschoolers in “homeschool law states,” the states can distribute their 90% in any way they choose. Some states have enacted laws that provide services to “homeschool” students; these provisions are included in the summaries below.

If a state is a “private school law state,” homeschoolers are eligible for services funded by both the federal IDEA program and the state.

Note: HSLDA believes that with receiving government funds, certain freedom and privacy is lost. Each homeschooler should weigh the cost against the benefit he or she would receive from accepting public school services. To enable families to not feel obligated to take government support for their special education students, HSLDA has established a private fund through the Home School Foundation that makes support available.

Alabama

Most parents in Alabama teach their children at home under the auspices of a church school, pursuant to Section 16-28-1(2) et seq of the Alabama Code. Church schools are not considered private schools. Since only public and private schools are eligible to receive IDEA funds for special education services, the government is not obligated to provide special education services for students enrolled in a church school program.

Alaska

Alaska has a private school provision contained in Alaska Statutes Sections 14.45.100 - 14.45.130. Families operating their home education program under the private school statute should be eligible to receive IDEA funds for special education services.

Arizona

Special services are available at the election of the school district.

Arkansas

Section 6-15-507 of the Arkansas Code states that children identified under IDEA as having disabilities are eligible for services to the same extent as private school students.

California

Homeschoolers are classified as private schools and are entitled to the federal funds specifically earmarked for private school students. This funding is minimal and how those funds are spent is entirely at the discretion of the school district.

Colorado

Has a private school provision. If homeschoolers are operating under private schools, they are eligible to receive special services.

Connecticut

According to the Connecticut State Board of Education, a student receiving home instruction is not enrolled in a private school so is not eligible for special education or related services.

Delaware

Homeschools are classified as “nonpublic schools” according to Delaware Code Annotated Title 14 Section 2703A. Since only public and private schools are eligible to receive IDEA funds for special education services, public schools are not obligated to provide services for Delaware homeschool students with special education needs.

District of Columbia

There are no additional requirements for homeschool students with special needs. In addition, though homeschooling is considered "private instruction," we have never heard of homeschoolers receiving funding.

Florida

Home education students are eligible for testing and evaluation services at diagnostic and resource centers, in accordance with Section 1006.03, Florida Statutes. FLA. STAT. § 1002.41 (2012).

However, once an evaluation is done and the child has been identified as having a disability, state law does not obligate the local school district to provide services. If the child is enrolled full time the district will be obligated to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to the child. Additionally, the school district may decide to enroll the child as a part-time student for services provide in the public school. This would allow the school district to obtain state funding through the Florida Education Funding Program (FEEP).

Florida also has a private school provision. If homeschoolers are operating under private schools, they are eligible to receive special services. However, services available to private school students may be less than what is provided to a public school student. Under both state and federal law a private school student is not entitled to all of the rights of a public school student when it comes to special education services.

Georgia

For the purposes of IDEA, students enrolled in home study programs shall be deemed to be private school students and shall be provided with the same special education and related services as students in private schools. (Code 1981, Section 20-2-159, enacted by Ga. L. 2002, p. 798, Section 1.) 20-2-159 Georgia Code Annotated

Guam

There are no additional requirements for homeschool students with special needs. In addition, there is no policy which allows homeschool students to obtain special education funding.

Hawaii

Special services are available at the election of the school district.

Idaho

A student may dual enroll and enter into any program in the public school available to other students subject to the compliance with the same rules and requirements. If enrollment for a specific program reaches the maximum priority for enrollment shall be given to a student enrolled in a public noncharter school. Idaho Code § 33-203

Illinois

Homeschool students are classified as private school students for the purposes of IDEA funding for special education services

Indiana

Homeschools operate as a private school, therefore they are entitled to special services.

Iowa

The parent, guardian, or legal or actual custodian of a child with a disability is not required to seek approval from the area education agency to provide competent private instruction for the child if the parent, guardian, or legal or actual custodian does not consent to initial evaluation or to reevaluation of the child for receipt of special education services or programs. Iowa Admin. Code § 281-31.10(299A). Otherwise, parents may homeschool a child who has been identified as having special needs only if they have approval from the special education director of the Area Education Agency. Iowa Code § 299A.9.

Children may dual enroll in the public school and receive special education services. Iowa Code § 299A.8; Iowa Admin. Code § 281-31.5.

Kansas

Homeschool students are classified as private school students for the purposes of IDEA funding for special education services.

Kentucky

Private school state, entitled to special services.

Louisiana

Under the private school option, entitled to special services.

Maine

Despite the wording of Maine statute 20-A ยง5021.3, the Maine Department of Education takes the position that a home instruction student cannot access special education services through a public school unless he also takes a public school class. Public schools follow the Department on this issue.

However, many Maine families who follow a homeschool-like model of education enroll their children in a RAPPS (recognized for attendance purposes private school).  Since a RAPPS is a private school, any student enrolled in a RAPPS has the same access to special education services as a student enrolled in any other private school.

For RAPPS requirements (formerly called NAPS), see HSLDA’s summary analysis of Maine homeschool law: http://www.hslda.org/laws/default.asp?state=me

Maine special education rules are available at: 05-071 Department of Education, Chapter 101 IV. 4, (www.maine.gov)

Maryland

There are no additional requirements for homeschool students with special needs. In addition, there is no policy which allows homeschool students to obtain special education funding.

Massachusetts

There is no law or regulation that specifically states that homeschoolers are eligible for special education services. However, since homeschooled students are treated essentially as privately instructed students under Massachusetts law, the Massachusetts Department of Education takes the position that in any court ruling, homeschoolers would likely be treated the same as private school students under the state’s special education law. The Massachusetts legislature has required local school districts to offer some form of special education services for eligible public and private school students from their districts.

HSLDA maintains that it is best for homeschoolers with special education students to provide those services privately. However, HSLDA will defend homeschool freedoms regardless of whether those services are provided privately or in connection with a local school district.

Michigan

Auxiliary services* are available to families who are homeschooling under the nonpublic school option. State law entitles nonpublic school students to access auxiliary services on an equal basis with public school students. M.C.L.A. 380.1296.

“The board of a local school district shall provide special education programs and services designed to develop the maximum potential of each student with a disability in its district on record under section 1711 for whom an appropriate educational or training program can be provided in accordance with the intermediate school district special education plan …" M.C.L.A. 380.1751(1). It is the Michigan Department of Education’s policy to provide special education services to students of public and nonpublic schools only.

*These include health and nursing services and examinations, street crossing guards services, national defense education act testing services, teacher speech and language services, school social work services, school psychological services, teacher consultant services for students with a disability and other ancillary services for students with a disability, and remedial reading.

Minnesota

Homeschoolers are eligible for special educational services in the same way that private school students are. Minn. Stat. § 125A.18.

Mississippi

A home instruction program in Mississippi is a type of nonpublic school, not a private school, so the state has no obligation to share IDEA funds with homeschoolers.

Missouri

Homeschoolers are eligible for special educational services the same as private school students under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 162.996.

Montana

Under Montana law, a home school is not included in the category of either a nonpublic or a private school. Accordingly, the state has no duty under federal law to provide special education and related services to home school students.

Nebraska

Homeschooling is considered “private schooling.” In addition, Nebraska has a new law allowing homeschoolers access to public school programs. While this law does not specifically refer to access to special needs programs, a reasonable interpretation would seem to allow homeschoolers access to them. Neb. Rev. St. § 79-2, 136.

New Hampshire

A parent may educate an "educationally disabled child." N.H. Rev. Stat. 186-C:5. Home-educated pupils shall have access to curricular courses and cocurricular programs offered by the school district in which the pupil resides. The local school board may adopt a policy regulating participation by home-educated pupils provided that the policy is not more restrictive for home educated pupils than it is for other pupils. N.H. Rev. Stat. 193:1-C.

However, there is no statewide policy which allows homeschool students to obtain special education funding.

New Jersey

There are no additional requirements for homeschool students with special needs. In addition, there is no general state law which requires school districts to provide special education services to homeschooled students. However, in school districts where private schools send their students to a public school to receive special education services, homeschoolers may be legally entitled to receive the same services. Forstrom v. Fair Lawn Public Schools, 775 A. 2d 65, (21 May 2001).

New Mexico

There are no additional requirements for homeschool students with special needs. While a parent could request that his or her homeschool student be evaluated to see if he/she could be eligible as a child with a disability, there is no policy that allows homeschool students to obtain special education services.

The statutory definition of a “private school” specifically excludes home schools and home school satellite programs. Section 22-1-2(L) NMSA 1978.

New York

Per New York Education Law Section 3602-c, students have a right to access special services according to the needs outlined in their Individual Education Plan. Guidance letter from NYSED can be found online.

Nevada

The law in Nevada equates homeschoolers with private schools for the purposes of special education. NRS 392.070(2).

“The board of trustees of each school district shall provide programs of special education and related services for homeschooled children. The programs of special education and related services required by this section must be made available:

  1. Only if a child would otherwise be eligible for participation in programs of special education and related services pursuant to NRS 388.440 to 388.520, inclusive;
  2. In the same manner that the board of trustees provides, as required by 20 U.S.C. § 1412, for the participation of pupils with disabilities who are enrolled in private schools within the school district voluntarily by their parents or legal guardians; and
  3. In accordance with the same requirements set forth in 20 U.S.C. § 1412 which relate to the participation of pupils with disabilities who are enrolled in private schools within the school district voluntarily by their parents or legal guardians.”

North Carolina

According to Section 115C-563 of North Carolina General statutes, home schools are classified as "non public schools." Accordingly, the state has no duty under federal law to provide special education and related services to home school students.

North Dakota

If the child's basic composite scores on a standardized test falls below the 30th percentile, the child must be professionally evaluated for a potential learning problem by a multidisciplinary assessment team. If the multidisciplinary team determines that the child is not learning disabled and does not need special education services, the parent may continue to provide instruction if the parent files with the local superintendent or county superintendent (if there is no local superintendent) a plan of remediation to address the academic deficiencies of the child. This plan must be developed by the parent in consultation with and with the approval of a state-certified teacher. The plan of remediation must remain in effect until the child achieves a test score at or above the 30th percentile or a score indicating one year of academic progress. If a child has a disability which requires special education services, the parent must file an individualized education program with the superintendent of the school district. N.D. Cent. Code §§ 15.1-23-11, 15.1-23-12, and 15.1-23-13.

A parent may provide home education to a developmentally disabled child under the following conditions: 1. The child has been determined to have a developmental disability by a licensed psychologist; 2. the child's parent qualifies to provide home education under § 15.1 23-03, as described above; and 3. the child's parent files with the superintendent of the child's school district of residence: (a) a notice that the child will receive home education, (b) a copy of the child's diagnosis of a developmental disability prepared and attested to by a licensed psychologist, and (c) a services plan developed and followed by the child's school district of residence and the child's parent; or, after providing written notice to the superintendent of the child's school district of residence, a substitute services plan, developed and followed by a services plan team selected by and compensated by the child's parent. A parent providing home schooling to a child with developmental disabilities must file with the local superintendent progress reports prepared by an individualized education program team selected by the parent on or before November 1, February 1, and May 1 of each school year. N.D. Cent. Code §§ 15.1-23-14 and 15.1-23-15.

Ohio

Neither homeschool students nor students enrolled in 08 schools have a right to receive special education services funded by the school district.

Oklahoma

There are no additional requirements for homeschool students with special needs. In addition, there is no policy which allows homeschool students to obtain special education funding.

Oregon

Homeschoolers have access to interscholastic activities, but not special services. The law allows special exemption from testing for special needs children.

Pennsylvania

A student identified pursuant to the provisions of the IDEA as needing special education services shall be in compliance with the homeschool law when the program addresses the specific needs of the student and is approved by a teacher with a valid certificate from the Commonwealth to teach special education or a licensed clinical or certified school psychologist, and written notification of such approval is submitted with the notarized affidavit required under the homeschool law. The student may receive special education and related services from the state when the parent and school district or intermediate unit of residence agree to it. Pennsylvania Statutes Annotated Section 13-1327(d).

Rhode Island

There are no additional requirements for homeschool students with special needs. In addition, there is no policy which allows homeschool students to obtain special education funding.

South Carolina

According to the office of the General Counsel of the Department of Education, the state treats students with disabilities in home schools in the same manner as parentally placed students with disabilities in private schools.

South Dakota

There are no additional requirements for homeschool students with special needs. In addition, there is no policy which allows homeschool students to obtain special education funding.

Tennessee

A home school in Tennessee is a non-public school, not a private school, so the state is not obligated to provide IDEA funds to home school students with disabilities.

Texas

Homeschools operate as private schools, therefore they are eligible to receive special services.

Utah

There are no additional requirements for homeschool students with special needs. In addition, there is no policy which allows homeschool students to obtain special education funding.

Vermont

Each home study enrollment notice must include “independent professional evidence” that the child is not handicapped. 16 V.S.A. § 166b(4). If the child is handicapped, the enrollment notice must include any special services or adaptations to be made to accommodate any handicapping condition. 16 V.S.A. § 166b(5).

School districts have been known to provide special education funding services to homeschooled students on a case by case basis.

Virginia

There are no additional requirements for homeschool students with special needs. In addition, there is no policy which allows homeschool students to obtain special education funding.

Note that individual county school districts may offer services to homeschool students on a first-come, first-served basis if funds are available. Families should contact their local school district. Two counties that have offered these services are York County Schools and Newport News City Schools.

Washington

Homeschooled students who are also part-time students in the public school are eligible for "ancillary services." RCW 28A.150.350

West Virginia

There are no additional requirements for homeschool students with special needs. In addition, there is no policy which allows homeschool students to obtain special education funding.

Wisconsin

There are no additional requirements for homeschool students with special needs. In addition, there is no policy which allows homeschool students to obtain special education funding.

Wyoming

There are no additional requirements for homeschool students with special needs. In addition, there is no policy which allows homeschool students to obtain special education funding.


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