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Notice of Intent: Filing Is Voluntary

by Luz Shosie, in collaboration with CT’s C.U.R.E.

As coordinators of Unschoolers Unlimited and volunteers for the CT Home Educators Association and the Connecticut Homeschool Network, Ned Vare and I have had many opportunities to talk to people about homeschooling in CT.

Many of those people are confused about whether or not to file the Notice of Intent. The State Department of Education’s C-14 Guidelines give two different messages — in the Introduction and elsewhere it reads, “Suggested Procedure” and in section 3 it reads, “parents must file…” To add to the confusion, school officials often give misleading or false information when parents ask about homeschooling. We have spoken to several families who were told by school employees that they “must file because the law requires them to do so.” Because the wording of the Guidelines is inconsistent and poorly written, school officials and parents may be unsure of their responsibilities and their rights.

According to the state law (CT General Statutes, Sec. 10 – 184) “All parents and those who have the care of children shall bring them up in some lawful and honest employment and instruct them or cause them to be instructed in reading, writing, spelling, English grammar, geography, arithmetic and United States history and in citizenship….” Parents are responsible to see that their children receive instruction in these subjects. The law does not say that you agree to “teach” these subjects the same way the public schools do; it’s up to you (and your child) to choose what, when, where, and how you offer instruction. It is also your responsibility to evaluate whether your child is learning these subjects.

Connecticut state law does not authorize school representatives to review or assess your educational program, your child’s schoolwork, or your teaching methods. Several years ago, after many meetings with CHEA, other homeschooling groups and public schools, the State Board of Education agreed to a policy on home instruction that was and remains “suggested.” The Notice of Intent form (NOI) is voluntary. You may choose to file, it’s up to you; some do and some don’t. If you file an NOI, you have agreed to the terms set forth in it. If you receive a written or verbal request or directive to file and do not wish to file, ask the school’s representative to put his/her request in writing and to cite the law that requires filing. They can’t, so they won’t.

Connecticut’s Citizens to Uphold the Right to Educate (CT’s C.U.R.E., 860/355-4724, [email protected]) is the home educators’ legislative watchdog and consulting group. They are volunteers who keep track of how local school officials respond to homeschoolers. Contact them to find out if homeschoolers have had any problems with the school officials in your town or to let them know if you have problems. CT’s C.U.R.E. recommends that you communicate with school officials in writing and keep copies of all correspondence. CT’s C.U.R.E. will help you write and respond to letters.

You can help ensure that Connecticut’s law continues to be favorable to homeschooling by knowing your rights and staying informed. Detailed articles about the law written by CT’s C.U.R.E. are available on the CT Home Educators Association web site:

www.CtHomeschoolers.com/Pages/Law/Laws.htm

Or call the CHEA Information Line (203) 781-8569, and request a copy of the information packet.

Stay informed about homeschooling in CT with a free subscription to Connecticut Homeschool Network Online Newsletter. Contact [email protected] or visit the web site:

www.mardicon.com/cthomeschoolnetwork.htm

In our ten years or so of dealing with the NOI confusion, Ned and I have never heard a good reason (or a benefit) to filing it; and there are many reasons not to file. As citizens of Connecticut, we have the right to educate our children without asking the state’s permission or seeking its approval for our methods. They are our children, not the state’s.