After posting about, IEP meetings gone wrong, the question many asked me was, ‘Which states require IEPs and extra paperwork for special needs homeschoolers?” After researching and double checking through Homeschool Legal Defense Association and Homeschool Legal Advantage. I have some answers.
First understand each year there are laws and clarifications on laws constantly moving through your state government. Join your local state group to stay on top the most recent laws and changes.
Also under federal laws no matter what state you live in according to IDEA you have the right to have your child tested by your local school. This means that the school will use their school teacher, therapist, psychologists to test your child as they would a public schooled child. Your child will be tested as if they are in public school. As in what skills would the exact same child do in a class. Can they sit for the periods of time needed if they were in a class. You will not have things like can they successfully go to the grocery store and out in public without problems tested. The next step is even if your child needs services they may not receive them.
The first group of states do not provide services for homeschoolers. You can come in and be tested but there is no obligation on the schools part to continue to help your child. The silver lining here is many times if there is space left over your local school might allow your child to still get services.
Schools are not obligated to receive services by law
Arizona – as per the school district
District of Columbia
Hawaii- as per the school district
Idaho-If dual enrolled
New Jersey- If your school district (very few do) provides services to private schools you might be able to get services as well.
Virginia-A couple of school systems have provided special services so check with your district.
Washington- Unless you are a part time student
The second group of states are states that do provide services with various restrictions. If you choose to receive services of any kind from the school system you are going to have to go through what a public school system child does, and IEP. Not only that but occasional re-evaluations and testing. Other issues you will have to deal with are the services are mostly provided at the school. You will have to go to the school for the therapies.
Services Provided under an umbrella school OR Private school laws
Then comes the states that once they know your child has a special need they require extra paperwork, or IEPs.
The following is directly from HSLDA website: (I copied such a large section because I didn’t want to in any way misrepresent the law.)
The parent, guardian, or legal or actual custodian of a child with a disability is not required to seek approval from the area education agency to provide competent private instruction for the child if the parent, guardian, or legal or actual custodian does not consent to initial evaluation or to reevaluation of the child for receipt of special education services or programs. Iowa Admin. Code § 281-31.10(299A). Otherwise, parents may homeschool a child who has been identified as having special needs only if they have approval from the special education director of the Area Education Agency. Iowa Code § 299A.9.
Children may dual enroll in the public school and receive special education services. Iowa Code § 299A.8; Iowa Admin. Code § 281-31.5.
If the child’s basic composite scores on a standardized test falls below the 30th percentile, the child must be professionally evaluated for a potential learning problem by a multidisciplinary assessment team. If the multidisciplinary team determines that the child is not learning disabled and does not need special education services, the parent may continue to provide instruction if the parent files with the local superintendent or county superintendent (if there is no local superintendent) a plan of remediation to address the academic deficiencies of the child. This plan must be developed by the parent in consultation with and with the approval of a state-certified teacher. The plan of remediation must remain in effect until the child achieves a test score at or above the 30th percentile or a score indicating one year of academic progress. If a child has a disability which requires special education services, the parent must file an individualized education program with the superintendent of the school district. N.D. Cent. Code §§ 15.1-23-11, 15.1-23-12, and 15.1-23-13.
A parent may provide home education to a developmentally disabled child under the following conditions: 1. The child has been determined to have a developmental disability by a licensed psychologist; 2. the child’s parent qualifies to provide home education under § 15.1 23-03, as described above; and 3. the child’s parent files with the superintendent of the child’s school district of residence: (a) a notice that the child will receive home education, (b) a copy of the child’s diagnosis of a developmental disability prepared and attested to by a licensed psychologist, and (c) a services plan developed and followed by the child’s school district of residence and the child’s parent; or, after providing written notice to the superintendent of the child’s school district of residence, a substitute services plan, developed and followed by a services plan team selected by and compensated by the child’s parent. A parent providing home schooling to a child with developmental disabilities must file with the local superintendent progress reports prepared by an individualized education program team selected by the parent on or before November 1, February 1, and May 1 of each school year. N.D. Cent. Code §§ 15.1-23-14 and 15.1-23-15.
A student identified pursuant to the provisions of the IDEA as needing special education services shall be in compliance with the homeschool law when the program addresses the specific needs of the student and is approved by a teacher with a valid certificate from the Commonwealth to teach special education or a licensed clinical or certified school psychologist, and written notification of such approval is submitted with the notarized affidavit required under the homeschool law. The student may receive special education and related services from the state when the parent and school district or intermediate unit of residence agree to it. Pennsylvania Statutes Annotated Section 13-1327(d).
Each home study enrollment notice must include “independent professional evidence” that the child is not handicapped. 16 V.S.A. § 166b(4). If the child is handicapped, the enrollment notice must include any special services or adaptations to be made to accommodate any handicapping condition. 16 V.S.A. § 166b(5).
School districts have been known to provide special education funding services to homeschooled students on a case by case basis.
Now that you know where you stand law wise with your local school services. I would like you to consider WHY? do you want to use school services? School services and therapies are not based around a child that can excel at life and home life. They are designed and planned with the idea that the child needs to learn to sit in a classroom for hours on end and do what a teacher says to keep order. Homeschooling is the opposite of this.
I looked into school therapy and even had my daughter evaluated for it. When I found out that even though she had a stroke she didn’t qualify because she could sit in her wheelchair at a desk and be taught. I walked away.
One of the best decisions I have ever made. We sought out private therapy. It took time to find a clinic that was open to homeschoolers and well trained. We had to get doctor’s letters stating why my child needed therapy. When asked why this therapy was not received through our local school system I simply told them we wished to have private therapy. There were limits on the therapy amounts. No problem because as an active part of our homeschooling we did at home therapy. We needed less visits.
Before asking for testing and services take a serious look at how other homeschoolers are treated in your area by the schools. Whether or not the law allows therapy the people involved maybe hostile. If you do get services are you ready for all that entails? IEPs, limited say on who the therapist is, dealing with school officials often, and possibly facing a constant grumble or outright diatribe on homeschooling.
Go into this with your eyes open!