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July/August, 2010

Board policy, state resources offer home-school answers

The question for this issue is answered by Kimberly Small, IASB assistant general counsel.

Question: While home schooling in Illinois is a form of private education, parents/guardians of home-schooled students still make requests of the public schools from time to time. What resources exist for school officials to navigate these issues?

Answer: The following three resources should provide school officials with enough information to manage the trickiest of home schooling issues.  

The board’s policy on home-schooled students is likely the first resource that school officials will use. IASB’s sample PRESS policy is 7:40 — Nonpublic School Students, Including Parochial and Home-Schooled Students.

For example, a frequent issue that parents/guardians of home-schooled students present is a request for admission of their home-schooled student for part-time attendance in the public school. This might be to take a particular class, such as physics, or to participate in an extracurricular activity, like an after-school jazz band.

Board policy is likely to contain the general rule that the school board may accept home-schooled students for part-time attendance, when the home-schooled student lives in the district and space is available.

School officials can direct parents/guardians to the policy for information about how to make these requests. It is also a great tool for the school board to inform its community as to what its expectations are regarding this issue.

The Illinois State Board of Education also provides a very useful resource at: www.isbe.state.il.us/Home School/default.htm. Here, school officials can access a FAQ document, which is full of great information.

For example, school officials will find that under certain conditions, the Illinois School Code requires school districts maintaining grades 9 through 12 to provide the classroom course in driver’s education and an approved course in practice driving to eligible home-schooled students residing in the district.

Also included within the document are other issues, such as whether home-schooled students may:

• participate in extracurricular activities (including athletics);

• take state assessment tests through their districts of residence; or

• return for the 12th grade and graduate.

 The document also includes other issues not listed here.

Lastly, but not least in importance, is advice from the board attorney.

Before making any decisions about an issue related to home-schooled students, public school officials should always consult the board attorney to analyze legal issues specific to the situation.

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