Homeschooling and IEPs {A Homeschooling 101 post}

I've recently been seeing a LOT of questions regarding homeschooling and IEPs, and also the legal issues surrounding homeschooling a special needs child.  So I would like to address that in this post. 

First: Special needs homeschooling is protected by the 1st and 14th amendments of the Constitution, and this also includes children who are currently enrolled with IEPs in a public school setting. With that said, most states have additional laws in place for regular homeschooling families, and additional provisions specifically for special needs families. This can be rather daunting, and unfortunately many boards of education do not help in this situation. I cannot speak for any other state, other than WV, so PLEASE look into your own state laws regarding homeschooling a special needs child, and what sort of assessment requirements there may be in those cases. 

For WV, you initiate your journey into homeschooling the same for every student-with a Notice of Intent. This is the ONLY piece of paper you need to give the board of education. In most cases, the board of education will give you a packet to fill out, etc. Just smile and ignore it. Not everyone knows the legalities of their NOI, so the board provides one in that packet so that those requirements are met...but sometimes, the board isn't as up to date on the current laws as veteran homeschoolers are, so these packets ask for information that isn't legally required. For that reason, it is best to just stick with a simple Notice of Intent that includes the proper information. I will upload one later today that can be used in WV. 

Second: WV does not have provisions for therapy for special needs students. If your child was receiving speech, OT, extra tutoring, and aid, etc. at school under the protection of an IEP, that will all end once you begin homeschooling. You may elect to continue these services through a private clinic at your own expense-with or without insurance, depending on your coverage, but the school system is under no obligation to continue these services.

Third: There are no IEPs in homeschooling in WV. You are in control of your child's education. You implement whatever plan of action you see fit to implement in your own homeschool. I do dozens and dozens of product reviews every year in order to show special needs family how these products work in our homeschool. I show you ways these programs can be tweaked, and accommodations that must be made, in order to make these work in our family. I show you products that do not work for our family while discussing ways I think those same products may work for others. As his primary educator, it is my responsibility to see his strengths, see his weaknesses, and plan accordingly. It is my job to set our goals, make sure they are attainable, and do our best to achieve those goals. Our homeschool year is fluid in that when we meet or exceed one goal, I have a new one in place. I keep tabs on what he does, how well he does it, and how often he needs more assistance. I can tell you what areas are areas of struggle, and why these present a challenge for him. How can I do this? Because I sit with him, and I watch and observe him. I brainstorm the how and why to everything, and I come up with ways to help him achieve his highest potential. We do not have an official, government issued IEP because homeschooling is, by it's very core definition, already an individualized education plan. When you take on the role of homeschool teacher, you are now in full control. There are not 504 plans, there are no IEPs...there is your choice of materials and your implementation of those materials.

Fourth: WV mandates a yearly assessment via standardized testing normed within the last 10 years or by portfolio review by a certified teacher. There's also the option for an alternative assessment that is mutually agreed upon beforehand by the parent/legal guardian and the superintendent. Before the new law, this was intended for special needs learners who could not take part in traditional means of education to have material for a portfolio or testing, for a variety of reasons, or students who may work outside the home, etc. We have actually used this option on a couple of occasions when my son had undergone a variety of tests through his doctors.

I hope I have sufficiently explained why there are no IEPs in homeschooling for WV. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave me a comment and I'll answer them as soon as I can.