DeWitt-Livingston-McLean Regional Office of Education

Since my address is within this Regional Office of Education area, I’ve checked it periodically. I don’t believe I’ve heard of problems stemming from this ROE, and the last I checked a year or so ago, they didn’t have much of an online presence.  But unfortunately, now this ROE  has a sidebar listing “Home School Information“.  Illinois homeschools are private schools, not public schools.  The trend of  IL State Board of Education/Regional Offices of Education on-line contortions throughout the state mis-representing Illinois homeschool rights and responsibilities is distressing.  One wonders what they say to new homeschoolers in face to face discussions, or via the telephone.
When you click that link, it takes you to this page: http://www.roe17.org/district_statistics.php
The quote below is their synopsis, followed by a link to a letter (pdf) signed off by the current ROE Superintendent, Mark Jontry, along with a linked IL State Board of Education Home School Registration Form.
Parents who choose to home school their child are encouraged to register their home school with the Regional Office of Education.  More information about Home Schooling is available in the documents below or by contacting Mary Orff.
Homeschool families should be not a standard piece of public school “statistics”  any more than other private school families.  That protection was preserved in the 1950 Illinois Supreme Court  Levisen ruling.  But, with the encouragement to register homeschoolers – attempting to place private schools under public school jurisdiction, rather than parental oversight –  the IL State Board of Education and the Regional Offices of Education are striving to destroy our autonomy.  Homeschoolers are not required to register, and should not register with the Regional Office of Education, or ISBE.  Those forms go to the ISBE Data Analysis & Progress Reporting Department, whose role is this:   “Analyzes data for policy and planning; coordinates annual reporting on progress related to Board goals and legislative requirements”.  Legislative requirements for homeschoolers do not include registration.  Since schools are suffering from financial losses, these public servants might be planning to bring in more private schoolers to gain more funding from federal and state governmental sources.  Is that what public service should entail?
Private schools have more important and worthy ongoing family and educational projects than delivering forms to bureaucrats intent on limiting their freedoms.  The ROE letter signed off by Superintendent Jontry appears to be a typical form seen in various Regional Offices of Education.  It begins with this:
Parents who choose to educate their children at home are under a legal obligation to meet the minimum requirements stated in the Illinois’ Compulsory Attendance Law (Section 26-1 of the Illinois School Code).  Children should be taught “…the branches of education taught to children of corresponding age and grade in the public schools” and are further obligated to be offered instruction in these core courses in the English language.  The “branches of education” include language arts, mathematics, biological and physical sciences, social sciences, fine arts, and physical development and health.
The *exemption* to the IL Compulsory attendance statute is located in Sec. 26-1 :Compulsory school age-Exemptions. One would have to question the public school branches of education listed in the quote above.  For example, many fine arts public school programs have been dropped, and so public schools do not include all of the “branches of education” listed above.
Here is the next paragraph in the letter:
Please complete the enclosed “Home School Registration” form for the 2009-2010 school year provided by the Illinois State Board of Education regarding the instruction you are providing for your child/children, and return it to the above address.  We will forward a copy to the Illinois State Board of Education.
There is nothing in that paragraph that states their registration form is not required.  This is deceptive, and a typical bullying practice by school authorities.  That form will indeed be sent to the Data Analysis and Progress Reporting Department of the IL State Board of Education.
Further in the letter, this below is stated in an intimidating and unnecessary manner.  Homeschoolers are taking on the education of their children, and are obviously engaged in their children’s lives.  Including truancy as a threat in this letter is unfortunate:
3. Truancy under 105 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5/26 of The School Code states that the Regional Superintendent is responsible for determining which children should be referred to the State’s Attorney as truants for failure to attend a public school in the district of  residence or a private or parochial school.  The children receiving home-schooling  must receive an education corresponding to the age and grade of those children attending a public school the entire time the public school is in session during a regular school term.
If public school children are not attending the schools, they are truant.  There are no time factors or schedules included in the compulsory attendance age exemption statute for private schools/homeschools.  As a matter of fact, many homeschoolers have learning projects and educational schedules throughout the entire year, and various times of day and night, and are not limited by public school schedules.
If, in the judgment of the public school of residence and the Regional Office of Education, the home instructions given by the parent are not “commensurate with the standards prescribed for the public schools”, then the case will be referred for truancy proceedings.  Thereafter, the determination of whether the home instruction is a satisfactory equivalent to a public education can be made by a judge in a truancy hearing.
Oddly, public school instruction is often notcommensurate with the standards prescribed for the public schools“.  But that’s not homeschoolers’ problem.  However, per the Illinois compulsory attendance age exemption: “Any child attending a private or a parochial school where children are 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”.
Homeschoolers should teach the branches of education taught for the same age(s) and grade in the public school, and teach it in English.  It seems that public schools have enough problems, without seeking out and bullying homeschoolers.
Illinois homeschoolers are not part of the public school system.  Let’s keep it that way.
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