Home Schooling: Child Find, Enrollment & Homeschooling

Home Schooling: Child Find, Enrollment & Homeschooling

August 31, 2019 0 By Ronny Jaskolski


[MUSIC] So if you’re home schooling
your child and you suspect that your child might have a
disability or have special education needs, what we want
you to know is even if you’ve made the decision to home school
and you’ve opted out of the public school, if you will,
you still have the right to bring your child to your
public school and say, I suspect that my child might
have a disability. I’d like you to evaluate my
child in the areas of disability that I suspect. And go through what is called
the eligibility process. Well, and this is where it gets
very, very complicated. Because the child find
obligations, which are really, to put it in English, the
obligations under the federal special education laws that a
school district is supposed to find and evaluate any student
who resides in their school district who might be suspected
of having a disability. And that includes kids who are
in private schools in their school districts who’ve never
entered the public schools. And it includes kids who are
being home schooled. And so what happens is that in
a situation like that, if a parent suspects their child has
a disability and is home schooling their child and they
call the school district and say, I’d like you to evaluate
Johnny to see if he or she has a disability, very often what
that parent will be told is, we don’t have an obligation to
do anything until you enroll your child in our
school district. Now here’s the problem
with that. First of all, for many families
who choose to home school their children– all
children, whether they have disabilities or not– there’s a strong philosophy
behind it very often in my experience. That they believe strongly in
the decision that they’ve made to home school their child. And so if what they’re told is,
the only way you get that evaluation is if you enroll
your child in our public schools, it usually will end the
conversation right there. And so the parent will just
say, well, I guess I’m not entitled to it. And it shouldn’t. And it shouldn’t. Because it really isn’t
quite that simple. And there are many cases that
talk about the difference between an obligation on a
school district being based on enrollment versus residency. And while I wish I could say
that it’s as clear cut decision, we don’t yet have a
Supreme Court decision on this very narrow issue. In general, I would say that
there’s a very strong argument to be made that residency is
what triggers the application. So I would just say, if that’s
what you’ve been told, don’t let the conversation
end there. Perhaps it’s time to pick up the
phone and call your State Department of Education and see
if you can get somebody there who is familiar with
special education or in your state you may even have a
home schooling liaison. And say, I suspect my child
has a disability. I’ve called my local school
district and asked them to evaluate my child. And they have said I have to
enroll him or her to do that or they have said this. And again, what you’re told by
that person may or may not even be an accurate reflection
of what the state of the law is in that state. Or it may just be arguable. That’s why there are lawyers,
because it’s arguable. But you really shouldn’t just
let the conversation end because you should be entitled
to find out whether your child has a disability. And that obligation, in general,
should fall on your school district. And if you do find out that your
child has a disability and you’re home schooling, it
may very well influence the decision you make from
that point on. Do I now put my child back into
the public school system where they can receive
special education services and related services? Or do I continue home schooling,
but I might need to be better armed with more
information to meet the unique needs of my child? Right. And just because you get the
evaluation doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to then get
across that threshold of whether your child is eligible
to receive services because one of the questions that the
school team is going to ask is, does the disability, if it
exists, adversely impact the child’s education? And then that’s sort of a
chicken or egg question. Well, what’s their education? Their education at home
or in school? If you were here, we
would do this. If you were– Right. It’s never easy or
straightforward. But I would just say, don’t let
that statement to you that you have to enroll your child
or send them here for us to evaluate him or her be
a conversation ender. Excellent. [MUSIC]