Home schooling laws in Pennsylvania were historically some of the strictest on the books. The passage of legislation in 2007 and then in 2009 significantly improved the home school law.
The most significant part of the legislation of 2007 was that it would remove the requirement that home education programs be evaluated by public school superintendents to determine whether students were receiving an appropriate education. Current law not only required parents to obtain an evaluation of their program by persons with qualifications prescribed by statute, it also required local superintendents to conduct virtually the same evaluation to also determine whether an appropriate education is occurring.
On April 7, 2009, Representative Dan Moul (Dist. 91) and 49 other co-sponsors introduced legislation that would significantly improve the homeschool law of Pennsylvania. Designated as House Bill 1217, this bill would make the following changes in the existing home education statute:
• Eliminate the public school superintendent’s review of portfolios;
• Require superintendents to accept an evaluator’s determination that an appropriate education is occurring in the home education program;
• Provide for an administrative procedure to resolve any claim by the superintendent that the parent has failed to comply with any aspect of the homeschool law; and
• Ensure that the home education program may continue during the time of any appeal of an adverse ruling by a hearing examiner.
To begin home educating:
1. Submit a notarized affidavit packet addressed to the superintendent of the school district of residence. The “affidavit packet” consists of:
- a notarized affidavit
- a list of objectives for each of the subjects required by law
- a medical exemption form; or the required medical information; or a simple statement that specific medical information is confidential and that the child’s medical records are “on file.
2. It is strongly suggested that one mail the “affidavit packet” to the school district superintendent by certified mail, return receipt requested.
3. Retain a copy of all affidavit materials for your own files.
During the legally defined (180 days or 900 hours for elementary/990 hours for secondary) year:
1. Maintain a log of the reading materials used by the child.
2. Retain some samples of work done by the child.
3. If the child has been identified as being in 3rd, 5th or 8th grades,
a. arrange for an assessment in Reading/Language Arts and Math, choosing an assessment tool from the list of “state approved” tests.
b. the parent or guardian may privately purchase the test. Anyone other than the parent or guardian may administer the test.
c. The results of this assessment must be included in the portfolio that is required to be submitted to the school district superintendent by June 30.
At the end of the legally defined year (180 days or 900 hours for elementary/ 990 hours for secondary) or by June 30, at the latest:
1. Have the student evaluated.
2. Submit portfolio, evaluation letter, and test scores (if required) to the superintendent of the school district of residence.