Sunday, September 05, 2010

Letter to the Superintendent, redux.......

Dear Superintendent Maziejka;

I understand that the Stillwater School District is in the inaugural year of its new homeschool policy, and wanted to take this opportunity to express a few thoughts that might form refinements to this policy as set forth.

Firstly, your response to our letter of intent to homeschool Jeremiah was under the header: "Confirming Request to Home Instruct." Perhaps this is a matter of language; however, I would like to be clear that parents need not request the privilege of homeschooling. So long as we comply with state law, we are within our rights to see to our children's learning at home, in a manner that is in keeping with our family's philosophy and needs.

Secondly, no paperwork was issued for our daughter, Annalise (DOB 7/8/04; age 6; grade 1). I have prepared her IHIP, and am sending it in a separate message; however, I ask that you please send a letter confirming your receipt of her letter of intent to homeschool, in case we are later required to produce proof of our adherence to the law.

Thirdly, your letter requested that we return our completed IHIPs within four weeks (September 3, 2010). However, Section 100.10 states "Within four weeks of the receipt (italics mine) of such materials....". We received your packet for Jeremiah on Saturday, August 14, making the four-week deadline September 11, 2010.

Fourthly, your reporting paperwork lists Quarterly Report Deadlines. According to Section 100.10: "on or before the dates specified by the parent in the IHIP (my italics), a quarterly report for each child will be furnished by the parent to the school district." Please note that the quarterly report dates supplied by the district are not evenly spaced for year-round learning, and I have adjusted our report deadlines accordingly.

Fifthly, there is a form included in the packet, entitled, "STATEMENT OF COMPULSORY EDUCATION SERVICES". I have read the law carefully, and do not see any part that explains the need for this signed form. Therefore, I will refrain from doing so, until and unless I understand its relevance.

Lastly, there is another form, entitled, "CONSENT FOR ANNUAL ASSESSMENT (IHIP)". I found this form misleading, because it seems to be suggesting that a norm-referenced standardized test is required for assessment each year, and that the test is to be administered by the district.

However, according to Section 100.10, a norm-referenced standardized test administered by the school district is only one option. "for grades four through eight, a written narrative prepared by a person specified in subpargraph (iii) of this paragraph. This alternative form of evaluation may be used no more often than every other school year for these grades."

"(iii) for the purposes of this paragraph, the person who prepares the written narrative shall be a New York State-certified teacher, a home instruction peer-review panel, or other person, who has interviewed the child and reviewed a portfolio of the child's work...."

As we intend to exercise an alternate method of assessment for this year, I have opted not to sign this consent form.

Thank you for your time in reading this during this busy period in your school year. If you have concerns regarding our IHIP, or would like to further discuss Stillwater's homeschool policy, please contact me at this email address.

As always, you are welcome to browse at our family blog, "The Unfettered Life" at www.memismommy.blogspot. com.

Happy Learning!

Shannon D. Burton

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