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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

IL Homeschool Registration and IDEA

Taken from Peoria APACHE homeschooling newsletter November 2006

Voluntary Homeschool Registration and Changes in the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act

Earlier this year (2006) the Illinois Board of Education began a campaign to register homeschooling families. Local education authorities began to notify known homeschooling families of optional registration as it relates to changes in availability of special education services for children with special needs. Additionally, notices were posted in local newspapers notifying families of children in private school placements of informational meetings regarding the changes in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as it relates to children with special needs in private schools also known as non-public attendance in each school district.

IDEA was originally enacted by Congress in 1975 to make sure that children with disabilities had the opportunity to receive a free appropriate public education, just like other children with services provided to meet their special needs. In past years, home educated students with special needs in Illinois have received services under IDEA from the public school system if the parents requested services and registered their children. IDEA was recently reauthorized with many new changes. Families who choose to register their children must know local school districts are no longer obligated to provide special education services to children with special needs in private settings. Registration does not guarantee children with special needs will be served. Registration guarantees that the local school district will identify and evaluate the child. Funding for special education services is quite limited for the child in the private (home) setting and the total cost of the evaluation alone will consume the monies set aside for the non-public or privately placed child. The United States Department of Education states:

"Children with disabilities enrolled in private schools by their parents have no individual entitlement to receive some or all of the special education and related services they would receive if enrolled in a public school other than Child Find (identification of all children with special needs), including evaluations."

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) advises against registering our homeschools. They are considered private schools in Illinois. Registration is voluntary and not required by Illinois law. HSLDA recommends accessing the private sector for special education services. They offer needs-based grants for those of home educating children with special needs to access private therapy, equipment, testing and specialized materials through the Home School Foundation.

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