Every parent in New York State has the right to home school their child and, given the myriad uncertainties presented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, districts are formally offering this opportunity to parents of registered students as an alternative to remote or hybrid instruction. The prospect of shielding their children from the ongoing changes expected from districts as the pandemic response continues to evolve, may seem attractive to parents.
However, home schooling is not easy and requires parents to take certain steps. You do not have the right to pull your child out of school without notifying your school district. Parents must notify their school district and show that they can provide “substantially equivalent” instruction to what the child would be receiving in school. While some districts have simplified the notice requirement by presenting the choice directly to parents as an alternative to remote or hybrid learning for each student, parents should consider the responsibilities home schooling will place upon them and will remove from their district, to determine whether it is the right choice for their family.
Here are questions that parents often ask us about home schooling. The answers are based on the Regulations and Guidance from the New York State Education Department :
Is Home Schooling different than Home-Bound instruction?
Yes. If your child is unable to attend school because of physical, mental, or emotional illness or injury, your school district will consider the medical verification and if appropriate, will provide home-bound instruction to a student of one hour a day for elementary students and two hours a day for secondary students. This is different from home-schooling in several respects:
- Parent opt-in for full school year, subject to regulatory compliance
- Parents must document “substantially equivalent” curriculum, obtaining all materials and personnel at their own expense
- District may authorize based on physician-documented medical necessity, generally for no more than 90 days; certification may be extended with updated medical documentation
- Student remains registered in District classes; District’s contracted home instruction provider, a certified teacher, delivers lessons provided by the student’s teacher(s) of record
Do I have to have any certifications and credential to home school my child?
No. State law does not require parents or teachers to have any specific credentials for home instruction. You are permitted to hire a tutor or teacher or contract with an on-line program for home instruction.
What Steps Must I Take If I Want to Home School my Child?
When you decide to home school your child, you must provide your school district a letter of intent to home school. Your school district must reply within 10 business days of receiving the notice of intent and must send you a copy of New York Regulations and a form on which to submit an Individualized Home Instruction Plan (“IHIP”).
What is an Individualized Home Instruction Plan?
An IHIP sets forth the details on how you will provide home instruction. The IHIP must include: the child’s name, age and grade level; a list of the syllabi, curriculum materials, textbooks or plan of instruction to be used in each of NYS required subjects; the dates you will submit Quarterly Reports; the names of the individuals providing instruction; and a statement that the child will be meeting the compulsory educational requirements of Education Law.
Who reviews the IHIP?
The Superintendent of your school district will review the IHIP. If the Superintendent determines that a revised IHIP is not in compliance, you may request a meeting with the Board of Education to present evidence of compliance. If the Board finds it non-compliant, you may appeal to the Commissioner of Education within 30 days of receiving notice of the determination.
Do I have to follow the exact school calendar and schedule for home schooling?
No, but you must measure attendance and the total amount of instructional time per week should be generally comparable to that of the public school. While most parents give instruction during the school day, greater flexibility in scheduling is possible.
May my child take part in school activities such as clubs or sports?
Children receiving home schooling may participate in school-sponsored club activities. However, only public school students may participate in interscholastic sports or intramurals.
Must students instructed at home meet immunization requirements for in-school students?
No. Parents do not have to submit proof of immunization for a home schooling program. However children who are not immunized can be denied access to a school building, if there is an outbreak of a disease for which immunization is required.
Is the district responsible for providing remedial programs for students instructed at home?
No. The district is not responsible for providing remedial programs.
If my child is eligible, can she receive special education services?
Yes. You must request services before June 1st of the school year and the student may receive special education services, as set forth in Individualized Education Service Plan, except for the classroom program. Some school districts may offer flexibility on the June 1 deadline but others hold parents strictly to it.
The dedicated team of special needs advocates at Littman Krooks, LLP has a comprehensive understanding of the educational requirements as they pertain to students with special needs, and use this knowledge to ensure that every student gets the education they need and deserve. Littman Krooks has been helping New York families for over 30 years. The knowledgeable attorneys at Littman Krooks can be reached 914-684-2100. You can also contact them at https://www.littmankrooks.com/.
 This article is based on New York State Regulations and Guidance from the New York State Department of Education. For more information see http://www.p12.nysed.gov/sss/homeinstruction/. Nothing in this article should be relied upon as legal advice. Consult an attorney experienced in education law for advice on the details of your child’s situation.