After school officials sent families in two different Kentucky counties letters “reminding” them of the homeschooling requirements, it was discovered that the officials actually had no idea what the requirements were.
According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), one of the school districts even had a policy in place to review the curriculum being used – without having requirements.
Meeting unknown requirements
Many homeschooling families were very frustrated after receiving confusing notifications from their local school districts.
“In Edmonson County, homeschool families received a memo from their local Director of Pupil Personnel (DPP) in July about homeschooling their children this school year,” HSLDA reports. “While it was written as a ‘reminder’ to homeschooling parents, the memo insisted that they had to submit ‘as soon as possible’ and ‘upon receipt of this letter’ the following: 1) name of children, 2) dates of birth, 3) sex of children, 4) student’s address, 5) current grade (2014–2015 school year) [sic], 6) names and addresses of parents or guardians, 7) name, address and phone number of home school (if different from parents) and, 8) names of all teacher and/or tutors.”
The misinforming letter brought undue stress to parents, pressing them to calibrate their homeschool programs to meet district requirements – about which they knew nothing.
“Also included with the memo was a copy of the district’s homeschool policy,” HSLDA Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt explained. “It stated that DPP is available to meet with homeschooling parents to ‘review legal requirements’ and ‘request a copy of the home school curriculum from the home school teacher.’”
In Kentucky’s Breathitt County, a similar correspondence letter dated September 1 was received by homeschool families.
“The Department of Pupil Personnel will be monitoring the curriculum and attendance records for all home school students who reside in the Breathitt County School District,” the letter read.
It was also demanded in the letter that parents submit their curriculum information along with their children’s first month’s attendance records by September 15. All subsequent attendance logs were ordered to be sent to district personnel on the 15th of every month through the end of the fall semester.
Schooling the schools
In order to get the school districts on the right page, Schmidt contacted both Kentucky school districts and specified exactly what state law requires so they would stop requiring information that they did not have the authority to request.
“In Kentucky, homeschool parents typically submit their notice of attendance in a homeschool program no later than the middle of August in order to comply with state law – most public schools start the first or second week of August,” Schmidt informed. “By reporting during the first two weeks of school, they are presumed to be operating a bona fide private homeschool program.”
If the school officials had done their own homework, they would have known the correct protocol before demanding the wrong information.
“Under Kentucky law, a parent who operates a private homeschool program must report ‘the names, ages, and places of residence of all pupils’ to the superintendent of schools ‘within two (2) weeks of the beginning of each school year,’” HSLDA attorneys pointed out.
It was also revealed that homeschool parents in both counties were under no obligation to meet with school officials – as they required.
“No parent is required to meet with school officials when educating their children at home, nor are they required to provide curriculum information for review by school officials,” Schmidt clarified. “While parents are obligated to keep attendance records and scholarship reports (i.e. report cards), they are not required to provide that information unless 1) they did not submit their notice within two weeks of the beginning of school or 2) there is individual evidence that they are not operating a bona fide homeschool program. No regular submission of attendance records is required by state law.”
Schmidt made it clear in his letter that the homeschool families would maintain their records as Kentucky state law requires, but he informed district officials that the parents respectfully decline to comply with demands made of them that are not within the law. Additionally, the Christian attorney explained to the school districts that HSLDA would continue to defend the families’ rights to homeschool and support them in their stand against any attempt to add requirements to state law.
Attorneys for the nonprofit legal group are confident that homeschool families in Breathitt County and Edmonston County will no longer experience any problems from district officials.