by Valerie Williams
(Sugar Land, Texas, USA )
My daughter is going to re-enter the public school. When I decided to homeschool her, everyone I talked with told me which curriculum to use but no one told me that if she wanted to go back to public school this year, I would have trouble because it wasn't accredited. Now what?
Reply to Re-enter the Public School:
That is unfortunate, Valerie. I do not know what is required in your state of Texas to re-enter the public school and have never dealt with this situation personally. However, to help you, I have consulted the book At Home With Learning. It is geared toward Wisconsin homeschoolers, but much of the information may still apply in your case. Please understand I am not an attorney and cannot give you counsel, but will quote from the book (in italics).
School districts sometimes pass entry policies that discriminate against homeschoolers by requiring that they meet requirements not placed on transfer students from other public and private schools. These requirements may include testing, a trial period, or a demonstration of social maturity. They have been judged discriminatory by attorneys working for local school districts, by an attorney working for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, and by local school officials. Find out if the school you have chosen to re-enter requires other public/private school transfers to have used an accredited curriculum. If not, then ask why you need one as it would be a discriminatory policy of it is not applied to all students.
It is a good idea to establish a good working relationship with personnel weeks or months prior to re-entering the public school. Visit the school, sit in on classes to get familiar with school policies regarding records, credits and tests. It is particularly important to find out how children's grade placement will be determined. Among the questions to ask: What criteria will be used? (Among the possibilities are age, test results, curriculum, review of the children's records and credits, interviews of children and parents, assessment of social maturity.) Are these criteria reasonable, non-discriminatory, and acceptable to you? If not, try to change them or have them waived.
At Home With Learning has devoted an entire chapter on the rights and responsibilities of homeschooling. It may help you to get a hold of a copy of the book and read Chapter 22 if you feel you are being discriminated against. The Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees equal treatment under law and protects citizens against discrimination. Such policies violate the principle of "innocent until proven guilty" by assuming there is something wrong with homeschoolers until they have proven otherwise.
Sometimes school officials like to exercise their authority by requiring us to supply them with information that is not necessary. Knowing that over 70,000 students have successfully re-entered the public school here in Wisconsin, should give you hope that your daughter will, too. Find out what is required of your daughter to re-enter the public school, then only do that, nothing more.
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