Note: This is part of a series I am writing about the actual application of the stipulations in the homeschooling regulations in the state of Maryland.
To begin homeschooling in this state, the regulations state the following:
“A parent or guardian who chooses to provide a home instruction program for his or her child shall initially sign a statement on a form prescribed by the State Department of Education which: … [s]hall be submitted to the local superintendent at least 15 days before the beginning of a home instruction program.”
What do those 15 days mean and who keeps track of them? Are they calendar days or business days or even school days? I assume the intent to allow time for the “local superintendent” to process the form. There is also no statement that the superintendent has to acknowledge receiving the form within those 15 days. How would a parent know if the form got lost in the mail?
Does the child have to remain in school during those 15 days? If not and the child stays home immediately after the form is mailed, does that mean that the child is not allowed to be taught anything for 15 days? Is this some attempt at legislating deschooling? If the child is supposed to remain in school during that time, what about cases where that is not in the healthiest interest of the student? We do not have a requirement of proving a certain number of days of attendance in homeschooling, so no one is actually counting back to that exact date 15 days from sending the letter. So really, what is the point of this 15-day waiting period?
Here is the 15-day waiting period played out in my case. I sent in my intent to homeschool at the end of May when my child was finishing the school year in public school. That way, if I decided to start some kind of education at any point during the summer, I was covered. It took until the middle of July for someone in the homeschooling office to send an email acknowledging receipt of my letter of intent. That email stated that my child would be added to the homeschool enrollment in the next several weeks. Then, sometime around the early part of August, I received my official letter from school district stating that I am homeschooling for that school year. So, it took a good 2.5 months from the time I sent my intent to homeschool until I got an official acknowledgment that my child was not going to go to return to school in the fall.
The take-away from my experience is probably that if you plan on homeschooling the next school year, just wait until August to file the paper work. I don’t know what happens when you file the notification form during the school year. However, filing it at the end of a school year just confuses the minds that believe learning only happens between late August and early June. The school district does not care what happens during the summer anyway, because another stipulation of the law is that the education takes place “on a regular basis during the school year.” That regulation will be part of my next article.