We’ve heard recent reports of problems when families try to withdraw their students from local school districts to homeschool.
(NOTE: if you’re in Kansas, you must register with the Kansas Department of Education before officially withdrawing from the school.)
If you’re new to homeschooling and have been receiving push-back after sending your school withdrawal letter, these important facts will help you know your legal rights and avoid unnecessary hurdles.
Fact No. 1: A withdrawal letter is legally sufficient.
Because homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, you are free at any time to withdraw your student – at any time in the school year. However, you must do it correctly to avoid problems!
If you’re living in Kansas, three consecutive unexcused absences constitute truancy under state law. This will prompt an investigation by the county/district attorney or SRS.
Therefore, you must formally withdraw your child to avoid becoming truant. Although you can withdraw by phone or in person, we recommend a letter as a hard-copy option that can be used if any legal problems arise.
(It’s also a good idea to send it by certified mail or deliver it in person, so that you can prove that the school received it.)
Fact No. 2: You are not required to sign anything the school provides.
Recently, some local families have received a school document that they are told they are “required” to sign, in order for the school to process the withdrawal.
The document may come in the form of a “notice of withdrawal or non-attendance for purposes of homeschooling.” It may contain wording such as the following:
- if the document is not signed, “the District is required by law to report my children as truant”
- the document waives the school district’s liability for “any such [truancy] report made in good faith, even if the facts believed by the District to support such a report are shown to be untrue”
Other families have mentioned being told the school must receive a letter from the “private school” that the child is being transferred to, instead of the letter from the child’s parents.
Neither of these added restrictions are required by homeschool law – either in Kansas or Missouri.
Please do not sign anything given to you! This can give them power to investigate you at any time, if they consider your child “at risk” based on your choice to homeschool.
It can also lead to more problems, laws and regulations against homeschooling for you and other families.
Fact No. 3: Homeschooling with special needs (with or without IEPs) can be done.
Some schools have warned families that they “may be ineligible to receive special education services” from the school if they withdraw to homeschool.
While Kansas school districts are not required to service IEPs of non-public school students, some will on a case-by-case basis. If this is something you are interested in, you can explore that possibility with your local school.
However, if the school district is shown to provide services to some private schools, they must provide them to all.
That would include Kansas homeschoolers, since our homeschools are legally recognized as non-accredited private schools. (Learn more about homeschooling in Kansas.)
Even if the school refuses to continue servicing your child’s IEP, it may be easier than you think to homeschool without an IEP.
The reason for IEPs is for public schools to create individualized learning plans, coordinate transportation needs, and organize supporting therapeutic services.
As homeschoolers, you’re already doing this for your child. The Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) even recommends that homeschoolers not use the term IEP in their homeschool, but Student Education Plan (SEP) to make the difference more apparent.
Please see our related blog post about homeschooling children with a current IEP here.
Fact No. 4: Know your state’s homeschool laws.
As you research homeschooling, it’s vital to remember that laws vary by state. This can help you avoid a lot of unnecessary paperwork and school district requests.
Here are just a few of the differences between Missouri and Kansas homeschool law:
- Legal recognition. Missouri recognizes a homeschool as different to public or private schools. Kansas considers homeschools to be non-accredited private schools.
- Record-keeping. Missouri requires homeschools to keep a record of at least 1,000 hours of instruction during the school term that you set. Kansas does not require such documentation, though we still recommend keeping records of your children’s academic progress.
- Periodic assessments. Missouri requires “a record of evaluations of the child’s academic progress.” This does not have to mean standardized testing (although we offer standardized testing opportunities just for homeschool families!). For example, you could use graded tests, projects or essays. The main criterion is to evaluate it with some kind of mark, indicating that the child has received some feedback on the item. Kansas does not require these periodic assessments.
(For a deeper discussion of legal nuances, see our Q&A on understanding Missouri homeschool law.)
Fact No. 5: If experiencing problems, HSLDA is a great resource.
If you have any problems from school districts when going through the withdrawal process, we recommend contacting the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) at once.
HSLDA was responsible for many of the legal homeschool victories in the United States and around the world. They still fight for homeschool-friendly legislation and represent homeschoolers in court when necessary, to defend their educational rights.
For example, Kansas used to be one of the most restrictive states on homeschooling. Today it’s one of the most progressive – thanks in part to HSLDA! (See Chapter 8 of Home School Heroes: The Struggle & Triumph of Home Schooling in America by the late Christopher Klicka.)
NOTE: If you sign up with MPE at the Family membership tier or higher, we can give you a $15 discount code on annual HSLDA membership. Just make sure you sign up with us first, since we cannot apply the discount retroactively.