(1) Compulsory School Attendance law, which requires a student to be enrolled in a public school unless they are receiving home-based instruction or are in a private school (28A.225 RCW).
For purposes of meeting compulsory attendance requirements, a student is enrolled in a public school, or is enrolled in a private school or is receiving home-based instruction (OSPI’s Washington State Laws Regulating Home-Based Instruction handbook, 8/01).
(2) Part-time enrollment law, allows home-based or private school students to enroll part-time in a public school for instructional or non-instructional services. The local school district can claim funding from the state (RCW 28A.150.350 and WAC.392-134).
Is a home-based student who enrolls part-time in the public school a home-based student or a public school student?
A home-based student enrolled part-time in the public school is counted as a homeschool student and is funded as a part-time public school student.
In a recent Ohio federal district court case the judge ruled that a private charter school was a public school and therefore under public school state laws. We urge you to read about this case at the following link: http://www.hslda.org/hs/state/oh/200306060.asp. Interpretation could be left up to the local public school officials or the state superintendent’s office. In the Ohio case, one of the criteria that the judge used was to determine where the funding was coming from. Since the funding came from taxpayer dollars, the school was then considered a publicly funded school. This puts the private charter school under public school laws.
This appears to be a slippery slope for parents who have entangled themselves in these programs.
UPDATE: Recent changes to Alternative Learning Programs have caused some concerns with school districts abusing the home-based instruction law to avoid state and federal regulations. Several ALPs enroll students in their programs up to 99% and misled parents into believing that they are under the home-based instruction law. The Legislature reacted by passing laws/rules prohibiting this practice. Students enrolled more that 80% part-time are now required to take the state test.
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.
Is it true that I can sign up part-time in an alternative learning program or online program 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 they can avoid state regulations, like requiring the student 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.
Does the home-based instruction law allow for such a loose definition? No!
While the home-based instruction laws (RCW 28A.200& 225.010) allow 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. <strong “mso-bidi-font-weight:=”” normal”=””>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.
Can a school district deny part-time access to a home-based student? According to RCW 28A.225.225 under certain conditions they may.
(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
(4) The district shall provide to applicants written notification of the approval or denial of the application in a timely manner. If the application is rejected, the notification shall include the reason or reasons for denial and the right to appeal under RCW 28A.225.230(3).
This 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.
Preserving homeschool freedoms for today and tomorrow!
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