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Parent-Directed Education Orientation to Homeschooling

Decision One: The Basics
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Decision Two: Legal Options

After reading the overview on this page be sure to follow through to the Homeschool Options Details page and the Private School Option Details page for a thourgh breakdown of the two.

Homeschooling has experienced tremendous growth since the homeschool provision was added to the Florida Statutes in the early 1980’s. The level of confusion has also risen as advice gets passed from one individual to another. It has a tendency to snowball, much like the gossip game where you start with one story and watch it gradually change as it is passed from one person to the next. Sometimes the advice given contains “truth,” but may be out of context.

In the next few pages we will attempt to break down the specifics of the Florida Compulsory Attendance laws in what we hope is a simple step-by-step process. The following overview is not intended to be legal advice, but it is a review of the pertinent state of Florida statutes as they relate to families who choose to direct the education of their children. This information is based on a thorough review of all the provisions of the Compulsory Attendance Statute, as well as twenty-five years of homeschooling experience and fifteen years as the full time administrator of a private school, which is required to comply with the provisions of those statutes. For additional detailed information, a good reference is Home School Legal Defense, a national organization for the protection of our right to homeschool. Their web site has up to date information about all fifty states.
In Florida you may also contact the FPEA (Florida Parent-Educators Association) at http://www.fpea.com/

Florida Compulsory Attendance Statute

All Florida laws involving conventional schools or students educated at home fall under the compulsory attendance statutes. Florida statute 1003.01(13) gives parents five ways of being in compliance with the compulsory attendance law. 1003.01(13) "Regular school attendance" means the actual attendance of a student during the school day as defined by law and rules of the State Board of Education. Regular attendance within the intent of s. 1003.21 may be achieved by attendance in:
(a) A public school supported by public funds;
(b) A parochial, religious, or denominational school;
(c) A private school supported in whole or in part by tuition charges or by endowments or gifts;
(d) A home education program that meets the requirements of chapter 1002; or
(e) A private tutoring program that meets the requirements of chapter 1002.

Florida Statute 1003..01(13) gives parents the choice of achieving regular school attendance through any ONE of the five provisions. It should be noted that parents who choose to comply with the compulsory attendance statute by enrolling in a private school cannot also be required to comply with the provisions of the homeschool option.

Often employees from the public school system will "assume" that the provisions of the homeschooling statute apply to all of those that educate their children at home, but many choose to enroll in a private school, thereby complying with the compulsory attendance statute that governs private schools, which is 1002.42 not the homeschooling statute which is 1002.41.

Details of the Five Attendance Options

A Public School

No additional explanation is included.

A Parochial, Religious, or Denominational School

These are schools operated by a local or national ministry, usually under the direct supervision of a church. A local example in Lakeland is Heritage Christian School, or Landmark Christian in Haines City. These schools are legally required to maintain records and attendance much like a public school; however, the state has no authority to regulate them except for the county health department on immunization records and the district superintendent on attendance. All other records are strictly confidential. Most operate day classes in the same format as the public school system, which we classify as “teacher-directed.” (We will explain
more about this when we look at textbooks and methodology in the next section.) As long as a private school keeps the student’s health file and daily attendance, regardless of how those classes are structured, it meets the compulsory attendance standard. The state has no role in accrediting schools, and accreditation is not a legal requirement. Most private schools are accredited, but it is up to the parents to check on this.

A Private School

They are just like the parochial, religious, or denominational school, except they do not operate under a church or religious organization. Families of Faith Christian Academy is a private school, even though the majority of our students complete all or most of their school work at home. FFCA supervises academic subjects, maintains all required records, and documents students’ progress and attendance. While not required to, FFCA is fully accredited by the FCCPSA. For specific information on FFCA, please refer to the Families of Faith Christian Academy section of this web site. Additional details of the “Private School Option” are given after the detailed explanation on the homeschool option on the next two pages.

A Home Education Program

A home education program is legally defined as being enrolled with the public school superintendent in the county in which the student resides. For complete details of the six requirements of this program, refer to the “Home Education Program Details” page that follows. Note: County registered students do not earn a high school diploma because the county does not supervise the student.

A Private Tutor Program

Although seldom used, a family can choose to hire a “state certified” teacher to come into their home and direct the education of the students. The teacher is required to maintain the same basic records as a private school.

Kindergarten and Beginning School Requirements (Florida)

If a child turns age six between the beginning of the school year and February 1, he/she is required to meet the compulsory attendance requirements for that entire school year. You will notice that a five year old is not required to attend school at all, but public schools will not accept a six year old into the first grade unless that student has completed an acceptable kindergarten program. Being registered
with the county as a homeschooler is not considered an acceptable program. They need a kindergarten diploma from a public school or an accredited private school. Students entering into the second grade or beyond are accepted without such documentation.

Homeschool Option Details

Private School Option Details