More on Compulsory School Age

People are now discussing, in various homeschooling (including unschooling) venues, both the “compulsory school age” changes (in NYC and Rochester) for 2013-14 and the “December Discrepancy” (in NYC). Both of these things concern the lower end (the kindergarten/first-grade end) of compulsory schooling. (But we hope some seasoned parents of older kids will contribute their thoughts, too.) Here are three things we’d like to say: 

  • PAHSI is now working on the idea of a form letter that parents (whether they are caught up in the December Discrepancy or only in the “minors-whose-parents-elect-not-to-enroll” mess, and whether they are in NYC or in some other part of the state) could either send to a school principal or other official or just keep handy by the door (addressed “To Whom it May Concern”). A form letter like this might be a good option to consider, in case someone ever comes knocking (for example, because of a neighbor’s complaint to child protective services).

Another form letter with legal references might be created for use by parents wanting to withdraw their kids from public or private school in NYC or Rochester in 2013-14, in case the parent hits snags.

 If you don’t know what the December Discrepancy is, please go back and read the 05/25/2013 blog post titled “December Birthdays and Compulsory School Age” before continuing to read this.

The idea would be to make the letter/s available here at www.pahsi.net so that parents could print it/them out and fill it/them in by hand. Those of you who have read both the “December Birthdays” blog post just mentioned and Parts 1 and 2 of the blog post titled “Kindergarten Changes in NYS” (published on 02/24/2013 and 03/10/2013, respectively) are asked to send your thoughts on this idea to comments@pahsi.net .

  • Some say that those New York City parents who are now thinking about whether to start filing homeschool paperwork, and who have December-birthday kids, should wait until the NYC Central Office of Home Schooling (that is, Homeschooling) sends out its 2013-14 info packets (to parents who homeschooled in 2012-13), in order to see whether the info packet is in fact revised to show a December 31 birthday cutoff.

PAHSI’s take is that while it’s certainly possible to wait to file homeschool paperwork until about mid-September, there’s no “should” about it – because parents’ goals for their paperwork vary.

Those December Discrepancy parents whose main or only goal is to file as little paperwork as possible over the years, or to delay filing the first piece of paperwork for as long as possible, might want to wait (on the theory that if the info packets aren’t revised, the December 1 cutoff still stands).

On the other hand, some parents see their primary goal as having some piece of homeschool paperwork in place, or some other documentation of their intentions handy, in case someone in an official capacity shows up on the doorstep in 2013-14, wanting to know why the kid isn’t in school.

And other parents have goals related to grade level – see point #26 in “How the Regulations Really Work”, which you can access by clicking on “About NYS Regulations”.

So we think that parents should consider their own goals when deciding whether to wait and see.

In any case, sending in a Letter of Intent much before July 1 sometimes unnecessarily complicates things, because on the receiving end they may not be ready to deal with the next school year until they wrap up the current one.

  • There’s been some speculation that those who drafted the bill that led to the current December Discrepancy couldn’t have intended a December 31 cutoff for NYC homeschoolers because otherwise they would have put that cutoff right into the bill. But we think they simply pasted in the old language from the Syracuse bill (of around 1988), which said “December first”. It isn’t hard to imagine this happening – laws end up wrong or confusing all the time, sometimes because somebody who doesn’t know the context, history, or terminology is told to go draft the thing.

In any case, please see the already-mentioned “December Birthdays and Compulsory School Age” blog post for why we’re less concerned with whether a December 31 cutoff in NYC is technically legitimate than with the practical effects for a 2013-14 that seems destined to be a maddening fog of dizzying confusion.