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Homeschooling Special Needs Children: Legal Information (page 2)

By — Homeschool Association of California
Updated on Dec 8, 2010

Pulling Your Child Out of School

Jennifer* (name and some facts changed to protect her privacy) was enrolled in a school that decided that she needed special education services. The school staff was abusive to her and her parents tried to pull her out of school. Jennifer was denied admission into the public school homeschooling program, charter school programs were unavailable, and her parents decided to homeschool her using the private school option. They filed an R-4 with the county, and the county rejected it, stating that they were not eligible to homeschool their child because she was subject to an IEP (Individualized Education Program) and she was required to be enrolled in the public school to receive the "free appropriate public education" they were providing her.

This scenario is the opposite side of the coin discussed in my April 2001 column. Instead of requesting the school to provide special education services to homeschoolers, homeschoolers are rejecting the special education services schools are providing. Are special needs children precluded from using private educational alternatives? The answer is a resounding NO. Just because a child has been determined to be a special needs child and an IEP has been prepared for her, does not mean that her family loses their constitutional right to choose the best educational alternative for their child. Parents can elect to place their child in a private school or facility. (20 USC 1412 (a)(10)(C); Education Code §56174.)

The fact that a family has a special needs child with an IEP contract, is involved in a SARB process or has signed a contract requiring them to comply with the compulsory education requirements does not negate their right to enroll their children in the private school of their choice. Furthermore, special needs children are not required to be enrolled in public school and may be enrolled in a private school of the parent's choice. The choice of a private school includes the right of a parent to enroll their children in a home-based private school by establishing their own school, complying with the California requirements for starting and operating a private school, filing an R-4 to verify that they have complied with the California requirements, and sending verification, upon request, to the local school district that the children are enrolled in and attending the private school. The county office of education does not have authority to approve or decline to process private school affidavits.

Jennifer's family is homeschooling their children, after filing the R-4 with the state. HSC wrote a letter to the office of education, and the family is prepared to enforce for their right to homeschool their special needs child. Often, administrators are bluffing, or just do not know the law. It is important that you know your rights so you can provide the best educational alternative for your children.

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