With the next school year right around the corner, some families are filing a Letter of Intent to begin home educating their children. They have a choice to file with their local school district (SAU) office, a private school that offers these services, or with the state Department of Education. This role is called a Participating Agency.
Per the state home education law, RSA 193-A, parents are required to notify their choice of Participating Agency of their intent to homeschool one time per child, not annually. Some school districts encourage parents to complete a particular form. However parents only need to provide a simple document called the Letter of Intent, which must include the child’s name, address, date of birth; parents’ names and addresses as well as daytime phone numbers; and the date the home education program will begin. It is due within five days of starting a homeschool program. The Participating Agency must send an acknowledgement letter — not an approval — within 14 days.
Unfortunately the Nashua School District wants more information from homeschoolers than required in statute. Their website requests parents complete a form that asks for the child’s place of birth, grade level, neighborhood school, race, and home language as well as the parents’ email address. None of this is demanded in the home education law. Also, the webpage indicates that the form is required each year although their form correctly states that parents only need to notify once per child as of 2012.
We spoke with Kerry Caldwell with the Nashua School District who is the contact person for Student Services. She acknowledged that although the law changed five years ago, the website needs to be updated to reflect that annual notification is not required.
When asked about the additional information requested on the form, Ms. Caldwell said that she “likes to have the child’s information so it can be entered into their system and in case the child is ever re-enrolled in the district.” Ms. Caldwell also said she tells parents that those extra data points are not required although there is nothing to indicate that on the form. She said the form will be updated to signify that information is optional.
Although Ms. Caldwell said most school district personnel are still on summer break, it appears that their website was changed shortly after our call and the form is not available online. Hopefully the form will also be updated soon as many homeschoolers will be filing in the coming few weeks.
It is important for parents to know what is and is not required of their homeschooling programs and to stay mindful when officials go beyond what is mandatory.