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What You Should Know about Home Schooling


In Ohio, parents must either send children of “compulsory school age” (children between six and 18) to school or ensure that they are being instructed according to the law. A parent who wishes his or her child to be “home schooled” must provide the school district of the child’s residence with information certifying that certain minimal educational requirements will be met each year that home schooling takes place.

Q: What is home schooling?
A: Home schooling is an exception to the compulsory attendance laws that allows parents or other qualified persons to provide school-aged children with educational programming in the home setting.

Q: What should I do if I want to home school my child?
A:
In addition to providing personal information about yourself and your child (and/or about any other qualified individual who will be teaching the child), you must:

·        give the superintendent of the school district where your child lives a signed statement certifying that your child will be taught certain subjects as the law requires and any other subjects the superintendent may require;

·        provide a brief outline of the curriculum and a list of textbooks and other teaching materials that you intend to use during the school year;

·        assure the school district that your child will receive at least 900 hours of home instruction during the school year; and

·        demonstrate that the home instructor (you or someone else) meets certain educational requirements or is being supervised by a person with a baccalaureate degree.

If your child was home schooled last year, you must also provide an academic assessment of your child.

Q: Can a superintendent deny my request to home school my child?
A:
Yes; your school superintendent has limited authority to deny your request. Within 14 days of receiving your request, the superintendent must notify you, in writing, that your child is excused from attendance for the remainder of the current school year. If the superintendent determines that the minimal educational requirements for home schooling will not likely be met, the superintendent must tell you, in writing, why he or she intends to deny the excuse, and inform you of your right to a “due process” hearing to discuss the matter. Based on the evidence presented at the hearing, the superintendent may then grant or deny the excuse. If the excuse is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision to a juvenile judge.

Q: May my child attend school on a part-time basis?
A: It depends. If you ask, your school district may decide to allow your home-schooled child to be enrolled part time. However, many school district policies allow only full-time students to be enrolled. Also, since the State Board of Education rules do not specify that any part-time “in-school” instruction counts towards the 900 minimum hours required for the home schooling curriculum, you still must ensure that that your “dual enrolled” student completes all of the necessary home schooling requirements.

Q: Must my home-schooled child take the Ohio proficiency test?
A: No. Depending on the school district’s policy, you and the superintendent may decide to have your child participate in the Ohio’s proficiency testing, but it is not required.

Q: Can my home-schooled child participate in our school district’s extracurricular activities?
A: Many districts allow only full-time enrolled students to participate, but it is up to the local school boards to decide.

Q: What if a student who has been home schooled wishes to enroll or re-enroll in school?
A: A superintendent of schools must allow a child who has been home schooled to enroll or re-enroll without discrimination. However, the superintendent may determine the appropriate placement for the child.In determining placement, the superintendent must consider the child’s most recent academic assessment report and other evaluation information including interviews with the child and/or parent(s). The superintendent also must consider administering any or all of the standardized achievement tests that are regularly scheduled for students of a similar age.

Q: Can a child receive credit for home schooling during an expulsion?
A: Under most circumstances, home schooling cannot be used to avoid the consequences of public school expulsion. Schools need not accept unauthorized home schooling credits during the expulsion period, particularly where the board’s policy defines “expulsion” as total removal from the educational program.

9/29/2011

Law You Can Use is a weekly consumer legal information column provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. This article was prepared by John E. Britton, an attorney with the Cleveland firm of Britton, Smith, Peters & Kalail Co., LPA.  Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek the advice of a licensed attorney.

Footnote

The Ohio State Board of Education’s home schooling administrative regulations were developed to implement the laws and statutes passed by the Ohio General Assembly. Although these administrative regulations have legal significance for boards of education, they do not supercede or overrule what is directly provided for in the legislation as enacted. For instance, the above-article includes the statement that a parent must “[g]ive the superintendent of the school district where [the] child lives a signed statement certifying that [the] child will be taught certain subjects as the law requires and any other subjects the superintendent may require.” That statement was taken directly from the existing language in Ohio Revised Code Section 3321.04 (i.e., the statute) which states, in part:

         (A) The Superintendent of the city or exempted village school district or the educational service center in which the child resides may excuse the child from attendance for any part of the remainder of the current school year upon satisfactory showing of either of the following facts:

* * *

                (1) That the child is being instructed at home by a person qualified to teach the branches in which instruction is required, and such additional branches, as the advancement and needs of the child may, in the opinion of such  superintendent, require.

(
emphasis added)

However, the Ohio Administrative Code Section (3301-34-03, i.e., the “regulation”) which deals with this issue, only provides a list of specific subjects and does not otherwise address the issue of whether or not the superintendent actually has the authority to assign any other subjects. It is, therefore, the position of many home schooling advocacy groups that the regulations “trump” the law and that the statement in the above-article reflecting the statute does not comport with current legal requirements.

Nevertheless, there is considerable authority to suggest that the actual wording of the legislation enacted prevails over the subsequent implementing regulations where there is a conflict. In either event, while the conflict between the law and the regulations is recognized by all, unless or until someone challenges a Superintendent’s authority to require a student to take subjects other than those specifically listed in R.C. §3321.04 and A.C. §3301-34-03, and the courts definitely rule on this matter, the exact outcome of this dispute remains uncertain. While, as a practical matter, and based upon the administrative code section discussed above, most Ohio school superintendents do not go beyond the limitations spelled out in the administrative regulations, this article accurately reflects current law.

 

Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney.

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