New York Set to Deny Special Services to Homeschoolers

I meant to blog about this last week but need more time to do some research. I haven’t lived in New York for six years and am not totally up to date on the education regulations there any more. But this recent development shocked me and it most definitely needs to be talked about.

So I was glad to see that my college classmate Andrea has posted a letter to Governor Spitzer addressing her concerns about the NY Board of Regents and Department of Education’s reinterpretation of the federal IDEA law. Their recent ruling, if you haven’t heard, will deny free, public-school-provided special services like speech therapy and OT to homeschooled children in New York State. These services will continue to be available to children enrolled in public and private schools.

These special services are paid for by the taxpayers. In other states, the public schools are required to provide the same special services to homeschooled and private-schooled children as they do to public-school students. Federal law mandates this. It is under this law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, that Wonderboy is able to receive necessary speech therapy and audiology services through our local school district, even though we are officially registered as a private school under California education regulation.

Andrea speaks eloquently to the importance of such services:

I am not a zealot. I am a concerned parent who, at great personal and
financial sacrifice, is trying to provide her two, exceptional children
with the tools needed to become life-long learners and independent,
creative problem-solvers capable of living their lives to the fullest
their capabilities allow…This
act by the NYS Ed. Dept. (revoking services to home schooled IEP kids)
feels like a slap in the face for families whose financial and emotional resources are already spread thin to breaking.

Andrea suspects that the policy change has more to do with funding problems than anything else. No matter what the cause, it is hard to believe that the state would choose to interpret the federal law in a manner that excludes homeschoolers but includes privately schooled children. This is stunningly inconsistent.

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6 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Laura says:

    Anecdotally speaking, the climate for homeschoolers in NY seems to be growing more hostile. Could be just hysteria in the air, but I’ve heard about more and more CPS visits and reports, issues with districts, you name it. We plan on moving from NY as soon as our oldest is in fifth grade, the grade when you must submit standardized test results. But since we live here right now, I think that I’m about ready to write to the Governor, too. Thanks for bringing attention to the issue!

  2. KC says:

    In our school district (I can’t say for sure for the others), homeschoolers are denied those services as well. It’s okay for us because our insurance pays, but I’m not sure how others do it. I’ve never realized that IDEA was supposed to provide those services (not that I’d want it as our school services are WAY below par).

  3. patience says:

    That’s appalling. I can’t fathom a government that would say this is okay.

  4. someone in NY says:

    You are correct in that the federal law is that every child in school will receive, for free, any special services that they need, e.g. PT, OT, etc. The rules are that the child will be pulled from most any class to be seen by the therapist. Here’s the interesting thing: Orthodox Jews in NY – not the biggest but one of the most powerful voting blocs – managed to get that altered to suit them. They did not want their (many, many) kids being pulled out of Yeshivas, so they are the only ones who get services at their homes, after school hours.

    So homeschoolers should 1) find out what’s going on in the Orthodox Jewish community and 2) yell as loud and long as you can to Spitzer with as many voices as you can find. It works; learn from them.

  5. Andrea says:

    Thank you *so* much for mentioning my blog, Melissa! And, just to fan the flames of outrage, there’s this factoid, that I didn’t include in my post:

    IF your child has an open IEP that outlines a course of services, New York State is now interpreting IDEA 2004 in such a way that schools do not provide (“aren’t allowed to provide”) services to home-schooled children…*HOWEVER*, home-schooling IEP-kid parents ARE STILL OBLIGATED TO PROVIDE THESE SERVICES FOR THEIR CHILDREN. The burden of providing a “free and appropriate education” is placed completely on the parent.

    So, the state is saying: choose to homeschool and you GET no services from us (despite paying the same exorbitant school taxes as everyone else). However? You are still financially required to PROCURE SERVICES for your child, per their IEP. And, the underlying threat to this interpretation, is that Child Protective Services will be sent to your home to make sure that you ARE NOT NEGLIGENT!

    When my autistic spectrum son was receiving OT, PT, speech therapy and social skills training multiple times a week, at the going rate, I would have been responsible for over $1,000/week in services. Needless to say, the option of home schooling would have been removed from our grasp. Additionally, without a home schooling option, my ability to effectively advocate and provide alternatives for my children would have been severely impaired–in short: unless I had the money for an appropriate private school, I would be denied ANY choice beyond what the district would be willing to offer!


    (But thank you again for mentioning my blog 🙂