Updated: Jun 7
By Dear Home Educators, Leaders, and Friends:
What a year this has been! I missed seeing you at the FPEA Conference in May, and I regret not being able to visit your groups during late summer and fall. My work in Tallahassee often prevents me from meeting your children and hearing the wonderful things happening in the home school world, but like all of you, I have been isolating since March. Despite my isolation, some very important work on your behalf has still been going on. Covid created situations like we have never seen before in our State, so I’ve had to look at new ways to deal with issues affecting home education students. I am providing a summary of some of the issues I’ve needed to address this year. Despite the present conditions in the State of Florida, much has been accomplished during an otherwise very difficult year.
Florida School Music Association
In 2019, several schools and programs serving home education students asked to be added to the list of approved Gardiner Scholarship providers. That list, however, is only updated in the summer when the entire Handbook is being revised. Step Up For Students (SUFS) and the Department of Education depend on my recommendations to make decisions as to which home education programs should qualify. I reached out to all the programs and schools that contacted me, and I researched their programs to ensure quality before making my recommendations. This step is vital for parents wishing to use an approved school or program for their children, so parents don’t need to pay out-of-pocket for tuition. Insuring qualified providers get on the list means that providers are able to invoice SUFS directly, getting these services into the hands of students who need them.
Department of Education FAQs
Ultimately, the FAQ document was finalized and appears online in its newly revised form (http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/7709/urlt/Home-Ed-FAQs.pdf). Perhaps the most significant change is the way districts shall now handle students who move from one Florida county to another. The DOE is now advising districts to handle homeschoolers who move to another Florida county as “transfers,” meaning their documentation will simply be transferred from one Florida county to another, rather than requiring a Letter of Termination in the old district and a Letter of Intent in the new one. This protocol provides a more seamless way for families to transfer, and it eliminates the need to submit an evaluation when terminating from the old county. Further, it avoids the issue of having to create a new anniversary date when submitting a letter of intent in the new county. Here is the new wording:
3.g. “Should there be a change of residence, but do not wish to terminate the home education program, the parent should notify the new district to which the child is moving to that they are transferring their home education program to the new district, and the new district home education contact must request the records from the previous district, notifying the old district that the student no longer resides in the previous district. Records are transferred and the previous district shall simply close out the student’s files. A home education transfer between districts does not require the parent to terminate the home education program (as they are not terminating; simply moving) and the parent does not need to provide an annual evaluation to the previous district.”
Currently, I am working with other school choice advocates on a draft bill which, if passed, will make some improvements to the several scholarship programs in Florida. As soon as the bill is filed, I will let you know so you can follow it through the Session.
Thank you so much for your continued support of the work of HEF on your behalf. Having a full-time lobbyist in Florida is of upmost importance in protecting your freedom to home educate.