Some of you who have read my blogs know that our family is in New York. When I’m writing in the homeschooling blog I can write that as New-York-Sate-the-most-unfriendly-home schooling-state-ever. Our state is highly regulated with no less than 7 pieces of paperwork that I have to turn in per year. (And that doesn’t include the records I have to keep until each child finishes high school.)
A few days ago, I had my first ever “confrontation” with the Board of Education. I want to write a year end evaluation of my child and the powers at the Board of Education want me to have it signed by a certified teacher. Finding a certified teacher is not the issue for me. I have friends who will look at my child’s annual assessment and agree with me that she can go into 3rd grade. For some reason, their state certification makes them ‘unbiased’ even though the woman who is doing it for me is a close personal friend, knows our family well, and knows our children well. But that’s not really the point. Although it is a technically legal request, it is a new request. We have never had to do this before when submitting our paperwork.
Have you had to deal with the Board of Education over a legal issue? We are fortunate in that the person who is in charge of reviewing our homeschooling paperwork actually knows the law. There is no mistakenly registering children for public school as some districts have done nor is there any requests for information that is not legally required, which also happens in some districts. In any case, here are a few tips for how to resolve a conflict with the Board of Ed:
Know the Law
It is helpful to know the law and know it well. In fact, not only is it helpful, it is your responsibility. When dealing with our representative, we spoke at length about what the law specifically says. I will do exactly what the law says. . .but nothing extra.
Turn Your Paperwork In On Time
As I relayed the new information to my group, I was amazed at the amount of people who said, “Oh I can’t call her–I don’t have any of my stuff in yet.” So far this year, I’ve turned in one letter of intent, one IHIP, and three quarterly reports. I spoke with people who have only done their letter of intent.
The problem is that you are representing homeschoolers. If you need to argue a point of law, you look bad by not having your stuff done. You’re in essence saying, ‘I will make you hold up your end of the law but my part is irrelevant.”
Use Your Manners
This would seem to be common sense but sadly it’s not. You may well disagree with the Board of Education, but getting rude and yelling is akin to biting the hand that feeds you. You are homeschooling under their supervision and you can disagree respectfully. Not only that but this is not personal. It is highly unlikely that the person on the other end of the phone is acting on a personal vendetta against homeschoolers everywhere. He/she just has a job to do and is trying to do it.
For our part, we are pursuing legal action against the Board of Education. We hope that the end result are some law changes in New York State in favor of homeschoolers. As I have more to update, I’ll let you know how it turns out!