USE OF WORDS: “APPLY, PERMISSION, REQUEST OR APPROVAL” by Sue Duncan

When we homeschool, we provide a NOTIFICATION of intention to home educate. Indeed, this section of the Rules for Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education (OAC 3301-34) is entitled:

“3310-34-03 – Notification.”

With respect to the statement regarding “approval” of homeschooling, keep in mind: you are NOT asking permission, seeking approval or making a request. You are NOTIFYING of your intention to home educate.

Under ORC 3321.04, the superintendent has a responsibility to know where children of compulsory ages (6-18 y/o) are “attending” in his district; this is his regulatory obligation.

When a parent notifies of his intention to home educate he enables the superintendent to fulfill this statutory burden. The superintendent NOW knows where this child is – where he is ATTENDING. He can do his job under compulsory attendance statute.

Remember: this process is called “NOTIFICATION. ” (OAC 3301-34-03)

Notify: “…to give notice to; to inform;”

Inform: “…to give knowledge of something; to tell.”

Keep in mind that the regulations were approved and adopted by the State Board of Education after a year of research, discussion and debate. They did not call it a “Permission to Commit Home Education;” or “Application to Home Educate.” They were specific in their use of words…both in the regulations and in the state-created notification form. They understood the meaning and the difference between notifying and asking permission. They made this process about notifying -not requesting; as parents we certainly understand the difference between being advised by our child/ren of a planned event and being given notice that it will occur.

None of the information provided in the notification requires “approval.” Most of the information is directory information – vital statistics (name, address, children’s names, birthdates); it does not require approval – they are what they are – merely data. Notifying home educators provide assurances that they will provide certain subject matter, 900 hours of home education, and have minimal educational background. These are simply agreements -promises – by the notifying home educator to the school district that he/she will do certain things. No proof is required to demonstrate that the parent has provided 900 hours, or has the minimal educational background (e.g, supplying a copy of high school diploma, GED certificate) ; these are not up for any review or judgment. They are merely checked off.

The items of curriculum outline and resource list are “for informational purposes only.” They are supplied to “inform” only – to indicate that the home educator has planned for the academic year and what he/she intends to use to implement that plan. Neither the curriculum outline nor the resource list are provided for judgment of academic adequacy, quality or appropriateness. Keep in mind that the notification process is one which proceeds from compulsory ATTENDANCE – not compulsory education; therefore, there would be no reason for a school district to be involved in any “approval” process regarding your provided curriculum outline or resource list. – nor was such “approval” ever intended. This is an administrative checkoff procedure.

The Statement of Purpose section of the regulations (OAC 3301-34-02) states: “The purpose of the rules in this chapter is “…to safeguard the primary right of parents to provide the education for their child(ren). Home education must be in accordance with law.” The provision of the child’s education, including the academic plan and learning objectives and resources would be the purview of the parent/s – not the school district. The district would have no role to play in “approval” in this regard.

Furthermore, you are not required to provide any proof or evidence; your word is your bond…your signature is entirely sufficient; indeed, all notification information is provided by virtue of a “signature of affirmation,” attesting that the information is to the best of your knowledge and belief. (See the discussion under PROOF in the CHALLENGES section of this website regarding the importance of the signature of affirmation.)

It is important that school districts understand this distinction because it is one with a difference – you are notifying, not asking permission, making a request and nothing you are providing requires approval. It is your primary parental right to choose this legal and equal educational option in Ohio.

Prepared and Submitted by Susan M. Duncan , February, 2000

Please do not reprint for publication or distribution without prior permission.