Public School At Home Programs (ALP, PPP, Virtual)
Part-time access to Public School Programs
Frequently asked questions about part-time access to public school programs
Lately there has been much confusion about part-time access to alternative learning programs and virtual schools. While we have provided considerable information about these programs on our web site, we want to address a couple of common questions.
I. Is it true that I can sign up part-time in an alternative program or virtual school and still maintain my homeschool status and freedoms under the home-based instruction law?
While in essence this is true, some programs have made false claims that a child can be enrolled in the program for the majority of their classes and still be considered a homeschooler under the home-based instruction law RCW 28A.200 and 225. Many of these sites are encouraging this misinformation so that parents can avoid state regulations, like their student being required to take the WASL. We are very concerned with public school officials misusing the home-based instruction law to avoid state regulations and have complained to the proper officials.
Their assumption is based on a state rule that defines part-time as anything less than full-time attendance WAC 392-134-005. Keep in mind that state rules are based upon state law but are not legislatively enacted law. The part-time attendance law RCW 28A.150.350 does not contain this language and does not define part-time attendance versus full-time attendance. The purpose of this law was to allow home-based and private school student to supplement their education or to participate in school sports or activities.
Next, we need to look at what the home-based instruction law says in RCW 28A.200 and 225.010. Does it allow for such a loose definition?
(4) For the purposes of this chapter and chapter 28A.200 RCW, instruction shall be home-based if it consists of planned and supervised instructional and related educational activities, including a curriculum and instruction in the basic skills of occupational education, science, mathematics, language, social studies, history, health, reading, writing, spelling, and the development of an appreciation of art and music, provided for a number of hours equivalent to the total annual program hours per grade level established for approved private schools under RCW 28A.195.010 and 28A.195.040 and if such activities are:
(a) Provided by a parent who is instructing his or her child only and are supervised by a certificated person. A certificated person for purposes of this chapter and chapter 28A.200 RCW shall be a person certified under chapter 28A.410 RCW. For purposes of this section, "supervised by a certificated person" means: The planning by the certificated person and the parent of objectives consistent with this subsection; a minimum each month of an average of one contact hour per week with the child being supervised by the certificated person; and evaluation of such child's progress by the certificated person. The number of children supervised by the certificated person shall not exceed thirty for purposes of this subsection; or
(b) Provided by a parent who is instructing his or her child only and who has either earned forty- five college level quarter credit hours or its equivalent in semester hours or has completed a course in home-based instruction at a postsecondary institution or a vocational-technical institute; or
(c) Provided by a parent who is deemed sufficiently qualified to provide home-based instruction by the superintendent of the local school district in which the child resides.
While the home-based instruction law allows for homeschooling to be liberally construed the law is clear on two points: 1) the education is to be home-based and 2) the instruction is to be provided by the parent. The law gives the parent the responsibility and control of the child’s education. While parents may not teach all of the courses the child engages in, the law assumes the parent is responsible for the majority of the child’s core courses; anything else would not fall under the home-based instruction law.
Based on the law, we would strongly caution any parent who allows a public school program to provide the majority of a child’s education. Just because a student is considered to be a part-time public school student does not necessarily mean that the parents will still be deemed homeschoolers under the home-based instruction law.
II. Can a school district or program deny part-time access?
What the laws say:
Attendance rights of part-time public school students. An eligible part-time public school student who qualifies as a resident of a public school district pursuant to the definition of a "resident student" set forth in chapter 392-137 WAC, as now or hereafter amended, shall be entitled to attend the schools of the district within his or her attendance area tuition free on a part-time basis. An eligible part-time public school student shall be entitled to take any course, receive any ancillary service, and take or receive any combination of courses and ancillary services which is made available by a public school to full-time students. Eligible nonresident part-time public school students may be enrolled at the discretion of a public school district pursuant to the terms and procedures established for nonresident student attendance in chapter 392-137 WAC, as now or hereafter amended.
(3) Except as provided in subsection (1) of this section, all districts accepting applications from nonresident students or from students receiving home-based instruction for admission to the district's schools shall consider equally all applications received. Each school district shall adopt a policy establishing rational, fair, and equitable standards for acceptance and rejection of applications by June 30, 1990. The policy may include rejection of a nonresident student if:
(a) Acceptance of a nonresident student would result in the district experiencing a financial hardship;
A school district program can deny access to a non-resident student, but resident students are entitled to all the services offered to full-time attendees. The law makes it clear that a school district must notify you in writing as to why access is denied. If your school district or a program run by a school district has denied your child access we suggest (1) that you request a copy of the school district policy and (2) complain to your local school board.
However, if you choose to participate, you are assigned to a class of their choosing. For example, if you want a specific teacher but there is more room in another teacher’s class for the same subject, they can put the student in that class, even if it means something less convenient (i.e. if you signed up for two classes, one could be the first period and the other the last period of the day).
If you encounter difficulties, we would also appreciate it if you would notify CHN of the situation at firstname.lastname@example.org
As we prepared to send this e-alert to our members, we received an e-lert from HSLDA informing homeschoolers of the dangers of virtual schools. We have included the following quote from their e-lert for your use (to read the complete e-lert contact HSLDA at www.hslda.org)
…………HSLDA recommends against enrolling your children in this program for the following reasons:
1. If you enroll full-time in any these programs, you will no longer be considered a private homeschooler, and you will not be eligible for membership in the Home School Legal Defense Association. Our goal at HSLDA is to protect the right of parents to privately homeschool free from government controls and restrictions. Online charter schools are tax-funded, government programs with legitimate government controls and limitations.
2. Schools like the Digital Learning Commons, InSight Virtual Academy ,Washington Connection Academy, and Washington Virtual Academy are public schools.
If you enroll your children in the these programs to receive your free curriculum and a laptop, your children will no longer be considered private homeschool students, but rather public school students. This means you waive certain parental rights and agree to homeschool according to the public school's rules. In other states with similar
"virtual" charter school programs, HSLDA has observed that more and more regulations are gradually placed on the enrolled homeschooling family each year. If the family does not comply with the regulations, the "virtual" school will demand return of the computer, curriculum, etc. Some families who have dis-enrolled have even been turned into the local child welfare agency. Homeschoolers who become dependent on the "free" government equipment and funds find that their freedom is gradually exchanged for these "freebies."…………