State Law Requirements for Special Needs Homeschoolers

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 National Center for Life and Liberty, homeschooling center. 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 I am not a lawyer I am a mom homeschooling my special needs children. I research and try my best to keep this list accurate.

State Law Requirements for Special Needs Homeschooling

Also under federal laws no matter what state you live in according to IDEA you have the right to have your child evaluated by your local school if there is a clear need. 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

Connecticut

Delaware

District of Columbia

Guam

Hawaii- as per the school district

Idaho-If dual enrolled

Maryland

Mississippi

Montana

New Hampshire

New Jersey- If your school district (very few do) provides services to private schools you might be able to get services as well.

New Mexico

North Carolina

Ohio

Oklahoma

Oregon

Rhode Island

South Dakota

Tennessee

Utah

Virginia-A couple of school systems have provided special services so check with your district.

Washington- Unless you are a part time student

West Virginia

Wisconsin

Wyoming

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

Alabama

Alaska

Arkansas

California

Colorado

Florida

Georgia

Illinois

Indiana

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana

Maine

Massachusetts

Michigan

Minnesota

Missouri

Nebraska

New York

Nevada

South Carolina

Texas

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.)

Iowa

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.

North Dakota

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.

Pennsylvania

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).

Vermont

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!

 

13 Responses to State Law Requirements for Special Needs Homeschoolers
  1. Melinda
    March 14, 2012 | 5:54 pm

    My youngest son has Apraxia. He’s not quite 3.5, so he’s not ready for school yet. But when he turned 3, we had to transition him from early intervention, to the public school Child Find program. They wouldn’t give him a speech therapist, instead he was assigned to a resource teacher. When I questioned this, I was told that everyone starts with a resource teacher “whether they have Down Syndrome or Apraxia”. The resource teacher had no idea what to do with him, each visit was a waste of time. She started mentioning autism, even though I told her he had been evaluated by two developmental pediatricians and both said he showed no signs, other than being non-verbal. It was at that point that I decided to drop the services, and we went with private speech therapy.

  2. Kelly Summers of California
    March 27, 2012 | 1:59 am

    Thank you for this article. All of a sudden I don’t feel all alone in this very difficult issue. I thought that I had lost my mind. If this article is posted, then my recent experiences must be common. My eyes are open now through experience. I wish all could get this message prior to the experience. I facebooked this article in hopes that it will receive more attention. I’ve had to go as far as seeking an attorney/advocate just for someone to explain to me the rules. I couldn’t get anyone to give me the information. Don’t stop posting. Thanks!

  3. Heather LeBlanc
    April 27, 2013 | 2:34 pm

    My son receives services through the school system in Louisiana. He has an IT (resource teacher) and a Speech Therapist. We request he have services at home. I’ve also requested that he be assigned a different speech teacher on 2 occasions throughout the year because I didn’t feel the approach of the current one benefited his learning style. It is within my rights in this state to be able to request site and style with the school system therapies. The heads of departments aren’t always happy, but ultimately, my son is getting the services he needs in the way he needs them. If you choose to get into this system, simply know your rights. He does well with the play therapy approach both of his in home teachers offer.

  4. Bernadette Harvell
    June 9, 2013 | 6:38 am

    I am a speech therapist in a public school, but as a Christian, am very sympathetic to homeschooling and have many friends who do so. I live in Maine and understand the special education system there very well. I feel terrible for the homeschooling parents as I read about their dealings with public schools. I have evaluated several homeschooled students and have tried to be very supportive. I know schools can be uncooperative and unpleasant, but beside that, I also think there is a perspective barrier. School personnel do not know what homeschool parents value and want from the school when it comes to special education. The school is a system and as such is sort of ‘set in its ways’. It is difficult for personnel to transpose this system onto an (unfamiliar to them) homeschooling situation. You can help this by being as clear as possible in telling the school what you want from them in a non-threatening way. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
    I have a question for you. I know some homeschooling parents help each other out teaching different subjects. Do any of you have a special education teacher, speech therapist, or occupational therapist in your rotation?

  5. Diane Goliwas
    August 9, 2013 | 8:25 am

    In PA. the law is often misinterpreted to mean that the portfolio must be examined and reported on by a special needs qualified evaluator. This is not true. It is merely the objectives that must be approved and sent along with the affidavit. Even evaluators themselves have often misinterpreted this part of the homeschool law.

  6. Christa
    August 9, 2013 | 9:23 am

    We also have a child that had a stroke (spinal stroke). Please email me. Would love to network.

  7. Nanette
    October 11, 2013 | 12:44 am

    Please add me to your network. Would like to know more. We have a child that is legally blind and hearing impaired. Thanks.

  8. Susan Pelayo
    November 18, 2013 | 2:54 am

    I have a 14 yr old daughter who has a diagnosis of Autism. At this time I strongly feel dissapointed and disgusted about many of the classroom/school performance. I’m seriously thinking about home school; however, who or where do I need to contact regarding curriculum?

  9. Kymm McCleary
    November 19, 2013 | 8:01 pm

    Like Susan Pelayo, I have a 13yr son that is high functioning Autistic and ADHD. He falls in the grey area of the education system of where we live. I too would like what steps need to be taken to home school my son.

  10. Jamie Lytle
    January 30, 2014 | 9:01 am

    I have a 10 yr old boy with Down Syndrome and Hirschsprung’s disease. This school year has been his worst with sickness. He has missed a lot but all medically excuse and some days when he doesn’t feel good I want to keep him home. No sense in sending him if he is just going to lay around at school. Anyways, I would love to home school him but not sure what I need to do!!! Help appreciated!!!

  11. William David roberts
    February 21, 2014 | 10:32 am

    My son is 7 7year-old where we live in ark the school in are city would not help my son he has CDLS what do we do about homeschooling my son with his CDLS he can not go to are local school bus he was in self cutand class when we true to tried to send him but it did not work out that is way I am disused to homeschool my so so what can I. Do on tis get back asap ok

  12. Melissa Ames
    October 2, 2014 | 5:50 pm

    My son is ADD and is currently being tested for autism. He is in school right now but am thinking he may be better off home schooled. I have no idea what I need to do. If he already has an IEP will that carry to home schooling through the state? He currently has speech therapy, occupational therapy, extra math and extra reading classes. He can’t sit still… he’s so frustrated.

  13. Heather Laurie
    October 2, 2014 | 8:58 pm

    If you have an IEP you might be able to continue it. It depends on the state you are in. It would be a smart idea to talk to or go to http://www.hslda.org I’m not a lawyer but they are.

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