My child needs therapy services but we are special needs homeschoolers can I get help? What does my state law say about my obligations to them paperwork wise so I can legally homeschool my child?
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.
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 give services by law
District of Columbia
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 in LIMITED CIRCUMSTANCES
Depending upon how you choose which law to use you might get services for your child under private school or umbrella school options and there are only a couple of states that allow you to homeschool and get services. All states (I have been told by parents) will use the simple math of public school students first, private schools second, then homeschooling student if there is any time/therapist/ or money for services left.
Arizona – as per the school district
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
Now comes the states that once they know your child has a special need they require extra paperwork such as IEPs whether you are receiving services through the school system or not.
You can find out the details of the law from HSLDA website for these states:
ADDITONAL PAPERWORK NEEDED
*New York- while the law doesn’t explicitly talk about special needs students you do have to file quarterly paperwork. Some special needs homeschoolers have contacted me telling me this ends up being a quarterly IEP meeting and report. You can have this be your own private team.
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 or welcoming. 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!
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