Some parents prefer to instruct their children themselves, and provide their child an education from home, rather than have their child attend a public, or a private school. Understandably, some public schools are unable to provide the best quality education, while more prestigious private schools can come with a hefty tuition. When thinking about homeschooling a student, it’s important to know the laws that govern home instruction in New York.
Parents are legally permitted to educate their child at home, as long as their child is of compulsory age (between 4 and 16), receives full-time instruction, and is taught by competent teachers that can provide instruction that is substantially equivalent to the level of education that is provided at the public schools in the district of the student’s residence (§§3204, 3210, 3212; 8 NYCRR § 100.10); Matter of Andrew T.T., 122 A.D.2d 362 (3d Dep’t 1986); In re Franz, 55 A.D.2d 424 (2d Dep’t 1997); people v. Turner, 277 A.D 317 (4th Dep’t 1950)).
Though the person who provides the home instruction for the student does not need to attain any specific credentials (NYS Education Department, Questions and Answers on Home Instruction (updated Mar. 2015), question 9), the Education Law does impose on parents a duty to ensure that their children receive the appropriate instruction (§3212; Appeal of Brown, 34 Ed Dept Rep 33 (1994); Matter of White, 29 Ed Dept Rep 511 (1990); Matter of Thomas H., 78 Misc.2d 412 (Fam. Ct. Yates Cnty 1974)). If a school district is unable to obtain information from parents regarding home instruction, and does not attain the sufficient evidence to satisfy the fact that the appropriate education is taking place, then the district is obligated to report the case to the Statewide Central Register for Child Abuse and Maltreatment with concerns of educational neglect. From here, the State will step in, and they will investigate to see if the child is, in fact, receiving the proper education.
It is the parent’s responsibility to notify the superintendent of schools in writing, each year, by July 1st of their intention to educate their child, or children at home. Parents must also submit an individualized home instruction plan (IHIP) of each child under their instruction by August 15th (8 NYCRR § 100.10(c)(2)). This plan must contain the syllabi, curriculum materials, textbooks, or plan of instruction to be used in each of the required subjects. Also included in this plan, must be the names of the person or persons providing the instruction or a statement that the child will instead be enrolled for a minimum of 12 credit hours at a degree granting institution (8 NUCRR § 100.10(d),(e)). Additionally, parents must submit quarterly reports for each child to the school district on the dates specified in the IHIP with a detailed description of the covered material on each subject. Also, the parent must include either a grade, or or a written narrative of the child’s progress. Lastly, it is the parents’ responsibility to submit an annual assessment of the student at the same time as the fourth quarterly report that is based on the results of the commercially published norm-referenced achievement test. Such examples of this include the Iowa, or California Test.
Home schooled students are held to similar attendance requirements as children who attend public schools. Home schooled students in grades 1 through 6 must receive 900 hours of instruction, and those in grades 7 through 12 must recited at least 990 hours. These numbers are equivalent to a 180 day school year that a student would receive at a public throughout the school year, so if a parent makes the decision to homeschool their child because of truancy issues, they may find that they encounter the same problem, as the attendance requirements are the same.
Though homeschooled students are not required to take mandated state assessments, like their public school counterparts, homeschooling has its drawbacks. In addition to not being able to borrow textbooks from public schools to ensure that a homeschooled student is receiving the same education, students who are schooled at home also do not receive a high school diploma. Diplomas are only awarded to students enrolled in a registered secondary school who has completed all program requirements (8 NYCRR § 100.2(p); NYS Education Department, Questions and Answers on Home Instruction (updated Mar. 2015), question 25). Instead, home schooled students are granted a certification by the superintendent of schools that the student has completed the equivalent of four years of high school study (Appeal of Federman, 45 Ed Dept Rep 554 (2006)).
With all the requirements and mandates set in place when it comes to home instruction, in addition to the drawbacks of a child not advancing in a social setting, it is important for all parents who are considering homeschooling to consider all of the factors, and decide if a home-based education is truly in the best interest for their child.
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