ROE Solutions Project – Letters Sent Out to Regional Offices of Education

Illinois Homeschool Freedom Watch is in action.  A long time homeschooler compiled a Regional Office of Education (ROE) database recording over-compliance demands ROE offices have posted online.  Using that database, a committee (or Gaggle, as we like to call ourselves in non-school terms) put together letters and mailed them out last month.  Just to give an idea of the tone and content, below is a sample letter.  Each of these letters were personalized to the particular Regional Office’s of Education problems that need to be resolved.

Dear ….,

We have observed an increasing number of over-compliance demands against homeschoolers from Illinois Regional Offices of Education and would like to bring specifics to your attention for correction.

It has come to our attention that your office is disseminating incorrect information regarding the rights and responsibilities of homeschoolers in your area.  Illinois Homeschool Freedom Watch was formed in 2006 to help homeschool families navigate and understand legal and legislative issues that concern them.

Our legal responsibility is to ensure that our children are taught the branches of education that correspond to the public schools and that instruction is in the English Language. (Illinois School Code 105 ILCS 5/26‑1: Compulsory school age Exemptions).

Illinois homeschoolers tend to be close-knit, well-networked support communities that also work together to maintain our families’ educational autonomy.  We are now aware of some concerns regarding your Regional Office’s activities and correspondence relating to homeschooling.

  • In the ISBE Legal Memorandum you’ve posted, there are erroneous assumptions.  Homeschools do not need to be monitored any more than any other private school.  There must be just cause to monitor a parent or guardian for not fulfilling the responsibilities laid out in 105 ILCS 5/26-1 exemption requirements. Homeschooling is not educational neglect and does not make one truant.
  • Registration – You ask parents to fill out a registration form.  The actual form does state that the form is voluntary, even though the inference throughout is that the form is mandatory, including a September registration.  There is no need for a Home School Registration Form from ROEs, as there is not mandated homeschool registration.  Again, homeschoolers do not need to be monitored.

We will keep our group members informed about your progress.  We are maintaining a website and blog that reports problems that homeschoolers have in various areas around Illinois.  Please be aware that we check the accuracy of Regional Offices’ of Education information, both on-line and off.

As your Regional Office does not have a favorable rating at this time, please be aware that we are motivated to help improve your ratings.  We look forward to hearing from you by October 15st, 2010, so we can report this to our members.

Very truly yours,

Illinois Homeschool Freedom Watch

Illinois Homeschool Freedom Watch letters were sent to 18 Regional Offices of Education around the state.  Those Regional Offices are: Bond-Effingham-Fayette, Boone-Winnebago, Carroll-JoDaviess-Stephenson, Champaign-Ford, Chicago Public School, Clinton-Marion-Washington, DeKalb, DeWitt-Livingston, McLean, Edwards-Gallatin-Hardin-Pope-Saline-Wabash-Wayne-White, Fulton-Schuyler, Kane, Lake, Lee-Ogle, Marshall-Putnam-Woodford, and Peoria, Sangamon and Will County.  There are 56 Illinois Regional Offices of Education.  Their job responsibilities do not require chasing down homeschoolers to register them in attempt to oversee their private school, which also happens to be their home.  Even the IL State Board of Education acknowledges that ROE “cooperation management” is to “assist the ISBE in the evaluation and recognition of public schools, and private schools who ask to be recognized”.  A government official handing a registration form to homeschoolers telling them they need to fill it out on an annual basis is quite the opposite of asking to be recognized.

Over one third of the ROE offices in 38 counties are requesting intrusive information from Illinois homeschoolers, and it appears that many Regional Offices of Education are systematically attempting to apply their unwarranted policy regarding homeschoolers.  There are more problem Regional Offices of Education, but these are the ones posting on-line demands.  Much of the problem heads straight back to the IL State Board of Education created Illinois Home-School Registration Form that is sent to the Springfield ISBE Data Analysis and Progress Reporting Department.  Homeschoolers do not have to report progress or be analyzed and these forms are not required in Illinois statutes.

There has been no written response from the Regional Offices thus far.  We will continue to follow this issue, track the offices’ information and take action after October 15th if there are no positive results.

If any homeschoolers know of any other problems with Regional Offices of Education besides these addressed here, please contact us and we’ll address it.

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DeKalb Regional Office of Education

The DeKalb County ROE has “Home Schooling” listed on the sidebar under Services. I think most homeschoolers don’t consider the Regional Office of Education/ISBE attempts to co-opt homeschooling a particular service.

Here’s what is quoted:

Illinois court decisions have established that a parent may teach his/her own child/children in their home provided that the child’s educational program satisfies the requirements as set forth in the Illinois School Code.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has an approved Home School Registration form available

I took out the link, as the ISBE needs as little help as possible with their website. What is an “approved Home School Registration form“? Was it approved by our legislators? No, or it would be law. If it’s not law, despite the over-compliance requests of the public school authorities, our private homeschools do not have to register with the Dekalb Regional Office of Education nor the IL State Board of Education. It would be detrimental for homeschoolers to do so.

The Catholic or non-sectarian private school down the road does not fill out Registration forms.  Homeschoolers, as private schools, should not fill out registration forms.  It’s much more personal for us when they’re  honing in on our homes.  They should respect that.   We’re not accountable to the ISBE Data Processing and Progress Reporting department.

One other reason it would be a bad idea is apparent below.   If you don’t have to “Complete All Areas of this Form” and return one copy here and one copy there, and then wonder if a Data Analysis and Progress Reporting department will find more hoops for you to jump through, why do it?

Please Complete All Areas of this Form then

— RETURN one signed copy to:

Tatia Beckwith, Assistant Superintendent
DeKalb County Regional Office of Education
2500 N. Annie Glidden Road, Suite C
DeKalb, IL 60115

— And RETURN one signed copy to:

Illinois State Board of Education
Data Analysis and Progress Reporting
100 N. First Street, S-284
Springfield, IL 62777-0001

This above request for paperwork only feeds a bureaucracy.  Homeschoolers can fulfill our children’s educational well being by taking the time to visit a wonderful museum or park rather than filling out invasive paperwork.  That’s one of the great joys of Illinois homeschooling.