WITHDRAWING YOUR CHILD FROM SCHOOL
You can withdraw your child from school mid-year and start homeschooling. Many schools are supportive of homeschooling and can provide you with help and resources. However, withdrawing a child mid- year may be a little more complicated than starting homeschooling at the beginning of the school year, because the school has a record of your child and may be unwilling to lose a student. The school loses funding attributable to your child. We recommend that you do not tell the school that you are going to homeschool (see the discussion following) but rather tell them that you are transferring your child to another school, as they may try to convince you that you are not capable of teaching your child or that you cannot legally homeschool, especially if you are setting up your own home-based private school. They may even threaten you with a report to the truancy officer. As long as you follow the legal requirements, you can withdraw your child from public or private school and legally homeschool. If you decide to start your own school, prepare the documentation noted below and remove your child from school.
NOTIFYING THE SCHOOL
If your child is enrolled in a public school at the beginning of a school year and you later withdraw your child and establish your private school, you will need to send or deliver two letters to the school. First, notify them in writing that you are withdrawing your child. This is a notification from you, the parent. Second, send or deliver a letter from your newly- established private school (not from you as a parent) confirming that the child is now enrolled in your school and that the school is requesting school records. You, as the parent, can also request the school records. You may also decide you do not require the records. That is your choice. Sample letters are provided here.
If you have never enrolled your children in the public school, you do not need to notify anyone. If, however, you had your child attending the public school during the previous year and did not tell the district that your child would not be attending the next year, you may wish to consider notifying them at the beginning of the next year that your child is now attending private school, so that the officials are not concerned about truancy. This is more of a concern in smaller districts with more stable populations, where the absence of a known child will be more easily noticed (large, urban districts are less likely to notice given the huge transience in their populations). Notifying the school and requesting your child's cumulative file closes the school's file on your child, and your child can not be considered truant once you have sent these notices.
When you take your child out of school, tell the school that your child will be attending another school and give the name. Because the CDE's old memos stating that homeschooling is illegal are still floating around in the minds and files of many public school officials, we recommend that you not mention the word "homeschooling." You can tell school officials whether you intend to use a public or private school, but you are not obligated to give them any more information than that.
THE CUMULATIVE FILE
The cumulative file includes transcripts for all grades attended, report cards and progress reports, disciplinary information and records, standardized testing participation and results, Individual Education Plan (IEP) if any, health records, psychological evaluations, speech and/or language evaluations, any other special education evaluations, and any other records the school has regarding your child.
If your child will be enrolled in a school run by someone else, that person will write the former school and ask for the child's cumulative file (§49068). If you are starting your own private school, then promptly write a professional letter to the former school on your school letterhead advising the administrators there that your child has been enrolled in (your school name) and request his or her cumulative file. Sending this letter should close the school's file on your child so that s/he can't be considered truant. The school is required to give you your child's cumulative file (it can be a copy rather than an original), although many schools don't seem to be able to do this. You are also entitled, as a parent, to have a copy of the cumulative file. If you really want to have a copy, we recommend going to the office in your role as a parent, not a school official, and offering to make the copies yourself, or giving them a stamped envelope, or any other help that makes it easier for them to comply. As long as you properly sent the request for the file, failure to receive the copy does not have any legal importance.
Many families have difficulty obtaining the cumulative file through their private school. If you have not received the records within six weeks, send another request. If the file is not forthcoming after the next six weeks, you may wish to reconsider the necessity of obtaining the file. One of the primary reasons for obtaining the file is so that the school will close its file on your child. While you have a right to have this file, unless you have a legal reason for needing it, you may wish to let the matter drop so that you do not draw unwanted attention to your family. Since you do have a legal right to obtain your child’s records, both as a parent and as the child’s school, you may wish to consult with an attorney in order to obtain the files. Often, a well worded letter from your counsel will get you the documents you request.
If you pull your child out as a result of truancy or other unresolved problems with the school, the school may fight your efforts by continuing with a truancy hearing or denying the validity of your new school. Although you are still entitled to educate your children at home using any of the options described above, you will need to weigh the practical and financial alternatives of continued controversy or litigation against other alternatives the truancy board might accept. In some cases, they may look more favorably on a program offered by a public or charter school or commercial private school rather than a home-based private school.
Education Code section 49068 provides: Whenever a pupil transfers from one school district to another or to a private school, or transfers from a private school to a school district within the state, the pupil’s permanent record or a copy thereof shall be transferred by the former district or private school upon a request from the district or private school where the pupil intends to enroll. Any school district requesting such a transfer of a record shall notify the parent of his right to receive a copy of the record and a right to a hearing to challenge the content of the record. The State Board of Education is hereby authorized to adopt rules and regulations concerning the transfer of records.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are "eligible students."
Parents or eligible students have the right to inspect and review the student's education records maintained by the school. Schools are not required to provide copies of records unless, for reasons such as great distance, it is impossible for parents or eligible students to review the records. Schools may charge a fee for copies.
Parents or eligible students have the right to request that a school correct records which they believe to be inaccurate or misleading. If the school decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student then has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if the school still decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student has the right to place a statement with the record setting forth his or her view about the contested information.
Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student's education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31):
o School officials with legitimate educational interest;
o Other schools to which a student is transferring;
o Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
o Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
o Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
o Accrediting organizations;
o To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena; o Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and
o State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.
Schools may disclose, without consent, "directory" information such as a student's name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. However, schools must tell parents and eligible students about directory information and allow parents and eligible students a reasonable amount of time to request that the school not disclose directory information about them. Schools must notify parents and eligible students annually of their rights under FERPA. The actual means of notification (special letter, inclusion in a PTA bulletin, student handbook, or newspaper article) is left to the discretion of each school.