Are home schooled students really in school?

The answer to the question is YES.

I have educated my kids at home from grade 1 and up since 1999. During that time, they were dual enrolled at the public school for various classes every year. At different grades of junior high or high school, our older kids, my husband, and I have agreed that full-time enrollment would be a benefit, and therefore moved my kids accordingly. Recently I was asked to get school records as we search for a formal learning disability diagnosis for one of our high schoolers.

To be clear: My state has recognized my home as a “real school.” Home schooling has been legal here since 1989.

So when a school staffer recently said she would check on district records for my child “for the time that he was actually in school” (meaning this current school year), I was sincerely offended. I told her that her statement hurt my feelings and that he was “in school” in previous years. She did not apologize or rephrase. The absence of her recognizing the fact that a homeschool is a valid school choice could mean a few things, and I’m estimating the likelihood of the meanings.

  • She didn’t know what to say – 100% possible
  • She meant “in this building” rather than “in the school system” – 5% possible. The demeanor of her voice said a lot.
  • She truly doesn’t recognize the state’s option of Competent Private Instruction (home schooling) as valid – 80% possible. I don’t know how many school nurses and teachers have contact with CPI kids. One of my kids was dual enrolled as a 6th grader and was told by a school nurse that she shouldn’t be in the building without a valid varicella shot (it was given two days too early to be valid), so at least one nurse with exposure to CPI kids exists, but overall, I am guessing that was rare. For teachers, my guess is that homeroom teachers have less exposure than specials, but that’s based only how my family handles dual enrollment. Other families may use dual enrollment differently.
  • She has not dealt with home schooled and formerly home schooled students (Seriously? In the year 2012 that is difficult to believe.)  — 30% possible

I also recognize a few things about this situation

  • In my 13 years of living here, there is no sensitivity training for staff to deal with CPI kids, and I’ve had very negative feelings spring from this fact when dealing with staff. They simply do not know what to do with my kids. Teachers just want to teach, but staffers get caught up in policy where there is none.
  • My district has non-residents here for our home school program. The likelihood of staff running into a homeschool family is higher here than in a couple nearby suburbs.
  • We aren’t always the only homeschool family in the building.
  • There does not seem to be standardized treatment of homeschooled kids. My one child was in four schools in four consecutive years of dual enrollment. Each building dealt with registration forms, drop-off, pick-up, and health forms differently. One school didn’t even have us fill out a health form. And can’t they be passed from school to school?
  • HOME SCHOOLERS ARE PAYING THE PUBLIC SCHOOL STAFF WITH A LARGE CHUNK OF THEIR PROPERTY TAXES. THEY OUGHT TO THANK US AND GIVE GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE ALL THE TIME.

I also learned that despite all the years that the building secretary had me fill out health forms or initial past forms, sigh, the papers did not move into my kid’s file. Ever. WHERE DID THEY GO? I know the old forms, with the same doctor information, were stored in the bottom drawer of a file cabinet because I saw them be retrieved for me to initial in subsequent years. And this was after I complained to my coordinator that I had to re-fill the forms for four years and that an initial should be valid. After all those painful minutes of registering, every single year, for multiple kids, surely there ought to be something to show for my efforts.

I look at dual enrollment as a “separate but equal” scenario when I read the law and accompanying regulations, but fail to see it enacted. It’s 2012, and customer service is always in season.

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