Fall 2017 ESDs, Challenges – 9/23/17

Title: ESD Requests Annual Notification of Intent to Homeschool

Alert: Question to OCEANetwork: “I’m looking for an article or post on your site that addresses the question of how to best respond when your ESD sends an annual Home School Status Form.”

Answer: OCEANetwork recommends that homeschoolers decline to give any information to ESDs not required by law, as it encourages ESDs to ask for more and more information — demonstrated by Lake County ESD’s yearly Home School Status Form mailing (http://www.lakeesd.k12.or.us/Portals/LakeESD/District/docs/HomeSchoolDocs/Student%20Status%20Form%202014-2015.pdf).

The warning signs in Lake County started with Lake County ESD’s Home School Registration Form (http://www.lakeesd.k12.or.us/Portals/LakeESD/District/docs/Registration%20Form%202015-2016.docx). The form claims to be “designed to satisfy notification requirements as set forth in OAR 581-021-0026 (1)(f).”

OAR 581-021-0026 (1)(f) reads:

(f) “Notification” means written notice containing:
(A) The child’s and the parent’s name, address, telephone number (optional), and e-mail address (optional);
(B) The child’s birth date; and
(C) The name of the school the child is presently attending, or last attended, or if child has not attended school, the name of the public school district in which the child resides.

Yet Lake County ESD’s Home School Registration Form requires (not optional):

– Graduation Year – Current Grade Level – Is student using an accredited on-line school?
– Will you be turning in an immunization form? – Does student have an identified disability?
– Home Phone

The grade level should be automatically assigned by the ESD according to OAR 581-021-0026(1)(b): “A six-year-old is assumed to be a kindergartner, unless the parent wishes to place the child in a higher grade” (http://www.ode.state.or.us/teachlearn/specialty/home/4.e.-examination-of-children-instructed-by-parent-legal-guardian-or-private-teacher-oar-581-021-0026-homeschooling-for-children-with-disabilities-oar-581-021-0029.pdf). There is no need for the ESD to require grade level information.

Lake County’s Home School Registration Form is not unusual. Your ESD’s “registration” form most likely makes similar requests for extra information.

Here is the problem. When Lake County homeschoolers — and more personally, when you and other homeschoolers in your ESD’s boundaries — give them the extra information, you send a message: Homeschoolers either do not know the law or do not care about it’s protections.

That list of required notification items in the homeschool OARs was carefully thought out. It gives the ESDs the information they need to identify the child as being legally homeschooled.

Phone is optional because many homeschoolers want a “paper trail” in case of problems. Email is optional because some homeschoolers do not want to overlook an important notice in their email inbox, a notice they would see if it came via the U.S. Postal Service. You may not be sensitive about these and other extra items, but fellow homeschoolers are.

Your ESD’s “registration” form item requests show how far the ESD has come to expect homeschoolers to just do what the ESD says they should, regardless of the law. That is the danger.

Lake County ESD, with their expectation of annual renotifications, is just a little ahead of your ESD on the intrusively-asking-for-extra-information curve.

Unfortunately, ESDs already think that getting extra information from homeschoolers is normal, as attested by their current “Home School Registration Forms.” We need to send the message, “No more.”

OCEANetwork recommends that homeschoolers notify ESDs of their intent to homeschool a child with a simple letter giving only the legally required information. An example letter is available at https://oceanetwork.org/started/laws_without_disabilites.cfm.

As for Lake County ESD’s Home School Registration Form, you will not be surprised to find out that I personally would put it through the shredder, without comment to the ESD.

You get to influence whether ESD annual Home School Status Forms are in your own future: “No more.”

Rodger Williams
OCEANetwork Freedom Watch Team

Many ESDs are overstepping their legal boundaries when dealing with homeschoolers by asking for (and in some instances requiring) information not required by the homeschool laws and rules.

Mailed Notifications of Intent to Homeschool – 9/8/17
ESD Rejects Paper Notification Form in Violation of State Law – 9/1/17

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