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Frequently Asked Questions about Home Education

Statutory Requirements

Q. Once I make the decision to home educate my child, what must I do first?

A. A written notice of intent to establish a home education program must be provided to the school district superintendent. This notice must include the name of the parent assuming responsibility for the education, the name(s) and birth date(s) of the child(ren), home address, and phone number.

Q. Do I have to hold a teaching certificate to teach my child at home?

A. No. A parent is not required to have a valid Florida teaching certificate to home educate his or her child.

Q. Will there be expenses associated with home educating my child, and will I be responsible for all of them?

A. Yes, there will be expenses associated with home education: books, materials, and any other instructional materials you choose to utilize. All expenses for the home education program are paid by the parents.

Q. What are my responsibilities as a home education parent?

A. As set forth by Florida Statute 1002.41(1)(a), to establish a Home Education Program and maintain compliance, the parent must:

1. Provide written notice to the school district Superintendent of intent to establish and maintain a Home Education Program.

2. Maintain a portfolio or records and materials for each student that contains:

a) A log, made contemporaneously with the instruction and which designates by title any reading material used, and

b) Samples of any writings, worksheets, workbooks, and creative materials used or developed by the student(s)

3. Preserve each student’s portfolio for two years and make it available for inspection by the Superintendent, upon a 15-day written notice.

4. Provide an annual educational evaluation of each student by:

a) Selecting a teacher holding a valid regular Florida certificate to teach academic subjects at the elementary or secondary level to review and discuss with the student the contents of the portfolio, or

b) Having the student take a nationally-normed student achievement test that is administered by a certified teacher, or

c) Having the student take a state student assessment test, or

d) Having each student evaluated by a psychologist holding a valid, active license, or

e) Having each student evaluated with any other valid measurement tool as mutually agreed upon by the Superintendent’s designee and the student’s parent prior to the evaluation.

5. Submit the results obtained from the annual educational evaluation in writing to the Superintendent’s designee.

Q. What do I need to keep in my child’s portfolio?

A. The student’s portfolio must contain a log, made contemporaneously with the instruction and which designates by title any reading material used, and samples of any writings, worksheets, workbooks, and creative list of materials used or developed by the student(s). The Home Educator must preserve each student’s portfolio for two years and make it available for inspection by the Superintendent, upon a 15-day written notice.

Q. Will Orange County Public Schools tell me what I should teach?

A. No. Once a student is withdrawn from the Orange County Public Schools and registered in a Home Education Program (HEP), the decision of what to teach, when to teach, etc. is the parent’s responsibility. To view the competencies taught in various courses, visit our website at www.ocps.net. Select the icon “Departments”, and then click “Curriculum”.

Q. How do I arrange for the annual evaluation of my child?

A. There are five options for evaluating your child:

1. Selecting a teacher holding a valid regular Florida teaching certificate to teach academic subjects at the elementary or secondary level to review and discuss with the student the contents of the portfolio, or

2. Having the student take a nationally-normed student achievement test that is administered by a certified teacher, or

3. Having the student take a state student assessment test, or

4. Having each student evaluated by a psychologist holding a valid, active license, or

5. Having each student evaluated with any other valid measurement tool as mutually agreed upon by the Superintendent’s designee and the student’s parent prior to the evaluation.

Q. What happens to my child’s annual evaluation when I send it to OCPS?

A. The Superintendent is responsible for reviewing the annual educational evaluation of the student in the Home Education Program. If the student is not demonstrating educational progress at a level commensurate with his/her ability, the Superintendent will notify the parent, in writing, that appropriate progress has not been achieved.

The parent will have one year from the date the written notification is received to provide remedial instruction to the student. At the end of the one-year probationary period, the pupil shall be reevaluated. Continuation in a Home Education Program is contingent on the student demonstrating educational progress commensurate with his or her ability at the end of the probationary period.

Q. What are the consequences if I do not submit an annual evaluation of my child to the district?

A. Florida Statute 1002.41(2)(c) requires the parent to provide an annual evaluation for each child. Failure to do so places the Home Education Program in non-compliance and the Superintendent may, after notice to the parent, terminate the Home Education Program and require the child to enroll in the public school of residence to meet the compulsory attendance law.

Q. Do I have to teach my child myself, or are there other educational avenues available?

A. A family that has established a Home Education Program as required by statute may enlist the help of a tutor, the Florida Virtual School, correspondence courses, or other means to provide the sequentially progressive instruction.

Q. If I hire a tutor to teach my child, who is responsible for the records?

A. If a private teacher is hired to provide instruction for the child, the parent is responsible for maintaining the child’s portfolio.

Q. How do I know if my child passes to the next grade?

A. That is the parent’s decision. If the student re-enters public school, testing or performance review by the school’s administration may indicate another grade level as more appropriate placement.

Q. What should I do when it is my intention to no longer home educate?

A. Provide written notice of termination of your home education program to the Superintendent within 30 days of the termination.

Q. Does OCPS provide opportunities for Exceptional Education Students?

A. Yes. Students that have been staffed into an Exception Education Program and have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) may receive services. You must contact your zoned school for ESE services.

Q. May my child participate in interscholastic, extracurricular activities offered at public schools?

A. Yes. Home education students may participate in interscholastic, extracurricular activities as long as they meet the requirements of Florida Statute 1006.5. Home education students must be given the same opportunity as public school students. The law prohibits any requirement that would make participation less accessible for home education students. Florida Statute 1002.41 only addresses the participation and requirements of public school and home education students. There is no requirement that public schools provide activities to private school students.

Q. What grade levels are allowed to participate in interscholastic, extracurricular activities?

A. Florida Statute 1002.41 primarily applies to students in grades 9 – 12 but does not prohibit students in lower grades from participating in activities involving interscholastic competition.

Q. What if the interscholastic, extracurricular activity requires a class be taken in order to participate?

A. In accordance with Florida Statute 1006.15(4)(c), a home education student must be able to participate in curricular activities if that is a requirement for an extracurricular activity. For example, the school must allow a home education student to take a band class during the day if that class is required for participation in the school’s marching band.

Q. If my child participates in interscholastic, extracurricular activities offered at public schools, must he/she comply with school entry immunization requirements?

A. Yes. Home education students who participate in interscholastic, extracurricular activities must meet the same immunization requirements as other students attending public school.

Q. How does the district determine the school at which my child may participate?

A. Districts permit home education students to participate at the school for which they would be zoned based on home residence.

Q. Do home education students have the same opportunity as public school students to enter the college of their choice?

A. Yes, depending on their qualifications and the admission requirements of the post secondary institution.

Q. Is there an opportunity for home school students to qualify for a state scholarship?

A. Yes. Home education students may qualify for a scholarship through the Bright Futures Scholarship Program. For information about this program, call the toll free number in Tallahassee (1-888-827-2004).

Q. How does a parent seek support from others who are teaching at home?

A. There are home education support groups in every district. One statewide group is the Florida Parent Educators Association (FPEA). The toll free number is 1-877-275-3732. Parents with internet access may also search online and visit websites for the various home education oriented organizations.

 

 

Practice & Procedures

 

Q. How may I find additional information and support?

A After you have submitted your written Notice of Intent, you may contact the Florida Parent Educators Association (FPEA).

P. O. Box 50685

Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250-0685

1-877-ASK-FPEA

Website address: www.fpea.com

E-mail address: district7@fpea.com

Q. Where may I order state adopted instructional materials?

A. State adopted instructional materials may be ordered from the Florida State Book Depository, P. O. Box 6578, Jacksonville, FL 32236, telephone (904) 781-7192, at the parent’s expense. Visit the Florida State Book Depository website at www.fsbd.com.

Q. How may I locate an evaluator for the annual evaluation?

A. Parents may contact the Florida Parent Educators Association at 1-877-275-3732 or call the Home Education office at 407-317-3314 to obtain the names of available evaluators.

Q. Will the district award my child a diploma?

A. No. School districts are not authorized to award a diploma to a home education student.

 

Q. Can a child who has been home educated enter/return to public school?

A. Yes. Any student who is within compulsory attendance age has the right to enroll in public school. Current district policies and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) standards govern the grade placement of any transfer student.

 

Q. Will OCPS accept my child’s high school credits awarded by the HEP?

A. Yes. According to specific policy IKF- Graduation Requirements, Letter B. Titles: Credit From Non-Accredited Schools and Home Education Policies (Grades 9 – 12), adopted by the School Board July 27, 1999, students transferring from Home Education Programs may be provisionally placed in grades 9 – 12 based on presentation of documentation that course performance standards have been mastered for each course for which credit is requested.

Credits granted for courses from Home Education Programs shall be assigned the grade of “S” on the receiving school transcript. Students transferring from Home Education Programs must enroll on a full-time basis and earn a specific minimum number of credits in order to qualify for a high school diploma.

Evaluation of the transcript will be conducted when your child enrolls at the high school for which they are zoned based on home residence.

Q. What is OCVS (Orange County Virtual School) & Florida Virtual School?

A. OCVS is your very own Orange County Virtual School. Featuring local highly qualified Orange county teachers, No cost & no waiting. OCVS also offers a full time program grades K-12 where students can earn a High School Diploma. For more information on the OCVS full time program please visit their website at www.ocvs.ocps.net. The Florida Virtual School is a statewide online middle and high school that provides online courses to all students in affiliated school districts throughout the State of Florida.

Q. How may I get further information regarding OCVS &/or Florida Virtual School?

A. Visit OCVS at www.ocvs.ocps.net &/or Florida Virtual School at www.flvs.net.

Enrollment cannot be verified and courses cannot be assigned until the Home Education Office has processed the Notice of Intent to Establish a Home Education Program.

Q. What “keywords” will help me search for home education websites?

A. The keywords “Florida Home Education” and also “home education” will yield many results as you search for home education websites.

LEGISLATIVE CHANGE

During the 2000 legislative session, Florida Statutes relating to students enrolled in a home education program were amended.

Students who exhibit a pattern of nonattendance in public schools and enroll in home education as a means of meeting the compulsory school attendance law must meet specific requirements. They include:

· The parent or guardian of a child who has been identified as exhibiting a pattern of nonattendance enrolls the child in a home education program, will be (a) provided a copy of the law and the accountability requirements, and (b) referred to a home education review committee.

· The committee is composed of the district contact for home education programs and at least two home educators who have conducted a home education program for at least three years and who have indicated a willingness to serve on the committee.

· The home education review committee will review the portfolio of the student every 30 days during the district's regular school terms until the committee is satisfied that the home education program is in compliance with the law.

· If the parent or guardian fails to provide a portfolio to the committee, the committee will notify the superintendent. The superintendent will terminate the home education program and require the parent to enroll the child, within three days, in a public school supported by public funds; a parochial, religious, or denominational school; or a private school supported in whole or in part by tuition charges or by endowments or gifts.

· After the home education program is terminated, the parent or guardian is not eligible to re-enroll the child in a home education program for 180 calendar days. Failure of a parent or guardian to enroll the child in one of the attendance options previously listed after termination of the home education program will constitute noncompliance with the compulsory attendance requirements and may result in criminal prosecution.​