Current home school law can be found here:
There is nowhere in the Rhode Island Home School laws that specifically talks about special education students that may have had an IEP when exiting.
Recently Commissioner Gist was asked for her Advisory Opinion in regards to special education services for Rhode Island students in home school programs. In her response it is noted that she is authorized to make informal interpretations of school law. It further states that such interpretations are based on the facts that she was presented in this request and is non-binding in the event of a dispute brought forth.
The particular request came from an attorneys office in Providence that represents many districts in Rhode Island. The request asked if districts are required to provide some(but not all) of the special education and related services delineated in a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) upon request by parents after their child is withdrawn from the public school and is now home schooled. The request further noted that it appears to conflict with Federal Register/Vol. 73, December 1, 2008, Page 73011.
In these situations the students had not exited from special education and the parents request some of the services, but again not all, such as speech and language, occupational therapy, and adaptive physical education. The request was if the district had a legal obligation to comply with the parent’s request if they are only requesting some, but not ALL of the services on the IEP.
In summary, Commissioner Gist did not believe that a parent could request what she deemed as a partial implementation of the child’s IEP; choosing some services, but not others. She continuously quoted a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) in referring to what the parents were requesting. She did state that if the district and the parents agree that the partial request still meets FAPE for the child, then the district should remove the other services from the IEP. However if the district disagrees then they can use Due Process to be sure the child continues to receive FAPE. The same Due Process that probably failed these families.
Many parents feel this is contradictary. In many cases, the parent decides to home school the special education student because they are NOT being provided FAPE or in the Least Restrictive Environment. In some cases they can’t get proper staffing and support for their child to be educated. Rather than go through litigation which often means they have to pay an attorney, money many just don’t have, they may turn to and make the committment to home school their child to provide FAPE and the proper 1:1 teaching their child needs.
Now it seems after fighting the school, which in many cases could be years, and then making the choice to home school, they could find themselves again having to fight the school district for their child. Parenting and teaching a special needs child is a big committment and not something a parent would decide to do lightly. Someone recently stated to me, “Don’t districts realize how hard raising a special needs child is? Why must they make it harder?”
In a footnote in the Advisory Opinion, the Commissioner noted that even if a home school parent decides to choose none of the “all or none” choice in services in writing, and exiting special education, that there are limited situations in which the termination of FAPE by the parent may constitute abuse or neglect of the child. She further stated that the district is then obliged to notify child welfare authorities.
If the Commissioner is telling this to districts, we have to wonder if all of this shouldn’t be written into the State home school regulations? It is evident that home school families are not aware of this yet, although I would expect it would or could happen soon.
This is all new and recent due to many districts asking their attorney this question about home schooled special education students. Perhaps it is related to funding? I know many parents who homeschool are not aware of this.