From our Regional HSLDA Representative
On Monday, August 25, several local homeschool groups met with the Federal & State Office of Compliance in Miami-Dade County to discuss home education programs and District officials handling of homeschool notices. The purpose of this meeting was to address our serious concerns about the District’s current policies regarding home education programs.
Representatives from Arch Angels of South Florida, Classical Conversations, Florida Parent Educators Association (FPEA), Parents’ Association for Christian Enrichment (PACE), Serving and Learning Together (SALT) and HSLDA staff attorney Tj Schmidt were in attendance at the meeting. At the meeting for the Federal & State Office of Compliance were Charlene Burks, Joseph Estrada, and Martha Montaner. Assistant School Board Attorney Mindy McNichols was also present.
During the meeting representatives from each homeschool group were able to raise all of our concerns. Some of these included the practice of issuing a student ID number to each home education student, the reports that homeschool parents were being discouraged by certain District officials from homeschooling their children, and the demand that parents establishing a home education program provide some proof of their relationship to the child and that they reside in Miami-Dade County.
Tj and other leaders pointed out to Miami-Dade officials that they do not have that authority to approve who can establish a home education program. If a parent provides the required information (names, addresses, and birthdates of all children in the home education program) in writing and signs it, they have provided prima facie evidence of a home education program operating in compliance with Florida law.
Home school leaders at the meeting also pointed out that the District’s current position also endangers the exercise of the parent’s fundamental civil right to direct their child’s education. For if Miami-Dade refuses to accept a legal notice from the parent establishing a home education program, they are potentially impacting the student’s ability to get official verification of their home education program for Bright Futures, Florida Virtual School (FLVS) participation, Dual Enrollment participation, extracurricular activities or even college admission.
While we were not able to get Miami-Dade officials to immediately drop their request for this additional information, we were able to open a dialogue with several key people. We were able to have Miami-Dade officials agree to review of their position and request for this information. At this point, we will continue pursue this matter with the goal of having Miami-Dade recognize every home education program that reports the information mandated by state law. HSLDA will be following up with Ms. McNichols and local homeschool leaders will also continue to dialogue with District officials. We hope to have more information to report in the coming weeks.
We certainly appreciate all of the prayers of those of you in Miami-Dade and the willingness of so many local homeschool leaders to quickly mobilize to help make this meeting a possibility. HSLDA Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt