No Response from Champaign-Ford County School Authorities about infringements

The Champaign-Ford County Regional Office of Education sent a letter in September to a homeschooling family requesting a home visit. From the ROE Asst. Superintendent’s letter:

I would like to set up a time to come by and give you our packet and introduce myself.”

The Assistant Superintendent went further explaining in her letter to the family that she “will visit home schools across Champaign and Ford counties to answer educational questions for parents.”

The family had local legal counsel make a call to the Asst. Superintendent inquiring about the unwarranted requests and information given to this family.

No one invited the ROE Asst. Superintendent into their home to present her packet and introduce herself.  A cup of coffee and a chat at the library (that this family frequents) would have seemed a more suitable offer than inviting yourself into a homeschooling family’s home.  Any which way, the request for a ‘visit’ was inappropriate and over-stepping their legal boundaries.

The family sent a letter of assurance to the ROE stating that their homeschooled children “were being taught the branches of education taught to children of corresponding age and grade in the public schools, and where the instruction of the child in the branches of education is in the English language“.

The ROE packet was mailed to them in response and the family hasn’t been bothered since.  However, the mom, as a homeschool advocate, along with others in the area are concerned about the ROE’s further plans as quoted in this post.

This packet [Home Instruction Guidelines and Information] from the Champaign-Ford Regional Office of Education contains a Home School Registration Form that is requested by the ROE even though registration is not mandated. There is no good reason to request a Registration Form.

It seemed appropriate to follow-up for this Champaign County family and others. while wondering about the ROE’s future plans in the Champaign and Ford County areas. There has been no response to my letter.

Letters to the editor within the Regional Office of Education boundaries (Champaign and Ford Counties) will be forthcoming, as needed.  This letter below was sent (certified) October 23.

Dear Ms. Daly,

My family homeschools and I helped found a group called the Illinois Homeschool Freedom Watch. Our group tries to answer legal homeschooling questions and contend with problems some families might have with authorities.

As you are aware, Illinois homeschools are private schools and are exempt from the Illinois compulsory attendance statute. Our legal responsibility is to ensure that our children are taught the branches of education that correspond to the public schools, and that instruction be in the English Language. (Illinois School Code 105 ILCS 5/26-1: Compulsory school age-Exemptions). Often, we find there are misunderstandings that need only involve more communications to be sure all (homeschoolers and public school authorities) understand the rights and responsibilities of Illinois homeschoolers.

Illinois homeschoolers tend to be close-knit, well-networked support communities that also work together to maintain our families’ educational autonomy. Through our family’s involvement in many Champaign-Urbana activities, I have become aware of some recent concerns about your Regional Office’s activities and correspondence relating to homeschooling. I am writing to ask that you consider revisions in your literature for the following reasons:

1) The Regional Office of Education (ROE) #9 publishes a “Home Instruction Guidelines and Information” page that is distributed to potential or current homeschool families who have withdrawn students from area schools.

a) Jurisdiction – The first sentence states that “ROE maintains, by law, jurisdiction over the supervision of public and non-public schools.” However, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) states that “The State Board of Education’s jurisdiction generally does not extend to private or parochial schools and for most purposes a home school is regarded as a private school.” http://www.isbe.state.il.us/homeschool/faq.pdf

b) Registration – The fourth point on your list asks parents to fill out a registration form. While the actual form does state that the form is voluntary, the inference throughout the rest of the materials in the packet is that the form is mandatory. The sixth point on your list, does accurately outline the only two requirements for private home schools, and does not include registration. There is no need for a Home School Registration Form from ROEs or ISBE, as there is not mandated homeschool registration.

2. In your letter to [this family] a few weeks ago, you stated that you “will visit home schools across Champaign and Ford counties to answer educational questions for parents.” It appears, from various viewpoints, that your plan to visit homeschoolers’ homes without invitation is outside the bounds of your duties. We are concerned about potential family rights’ intrusions and hope you will reconsider your plans.

We do appreciate you passing along homeschool support group contact information to those who contact your office. A variety of homeschool groups in the area provide useful resources, as well as support, to homeschoolers.

As this policy is reviewed and revised, I would be happy to keep our group members informed about your progress.

Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Susan Ryan

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One Response

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