While researching this, I discovered two things:
1) There are a lot of states that have similar requirements and 2) New York State requires more paper work than any other state.
Therefore, chances are good, that if you do not live in New York State you can still look at my examples and glean some useful information. Chances are also good that if you have to write it and turn it in. . .so do I. You can also look at these examples for your own record keeping, even if your state doesn‘t require it.
(For information about your state’s legal requirements check out Charisse’s blogs.)
The Letter of Intent
Several states require that parents write a letter of intent. A letter of intent is just that: you are telling the powers that be (in New York State this is your local or regional superintendant or home schooling liaison) that you intend to home school. It should include the date you are writing the letter, your child’s name, your child’s birth date, and it should state that you intend to home school your child. It should be signed by both parents if both parents take some part in the child’s education. (If your husband cooks dinner so you can finish up that last subject. . .he takes part!) You should write separate letters for each child. Do not lump all of your children into one letter. In essence, it should look like this:
July 1, 2006
To Whom It May Concern:
This letter is to inform you that I intend to home school my child, Joe Schmoe, born on January 1, 1999, for the 2006-2007 school year.
Joe & Janet Schmoe
(their signatures here)
Asking Permission. . .
The most common mistake is that people write too much in their letter of intent. There’s something that goes against our nature when we have to write such a short letter. But remember, this is a “letter of intent”. It is not a “letter of permission” or a “letter of complaining.” The people to whom you are writing are employees of the Board of Education. Chances are good they are not in favor of home schooling. Chances are even better that they really don’t care; or at least not as much as you do.
Do not open a can of worms by asking permission. Did you ever hear the saying, “It is easier to say sorry than to ask permission?” This is definitely true when dealing with the board of education and on top of that–you will not need to say sorry as long as you are in compliance with the regulations.
If you ask permission in your letter of intent, you are voluntarily giving the board of education, local superintendent, or whomever, the chance to say “no”. Although, legally, you don’t need their permission, their response can make your life difficult while you are getting things sorted out.
Never Ever Say This!
Never ever start your letter with, “I am home schooling my child because. . .” First of all, as I’ve said, they probably don’t care. Second of all, you don’t have to give a reason. If you have pulled your child out of school in the middle of the year to begin home schooling and you have a complaint that you just have to get off your chest, write a separate letter to the principal of the school your child was in or your child‘s teacher. Complain your heart out but don’t mention you are pulling your child out of school. They will figure it out when your child doesn’t show up to school anymore.
Unfortunatley for New Yorkers, the letter of intent is just the first step in completing the paperwork that is required. For more information and examples see the rest of my series: IHIPs, Quarterlies, and Attendance: Oh My!