During testimony for a School Choice bill in the House Education Committee last week, a school in northern Indiana was there to testify and claimed that they are serving many needy students including “homeschool dropouts”. The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) has data that reports 10,000 students a year for the past three years have transferred to home school. IAHE has been told these are secondary students, but we are unable to confirm if the data that we have received from the IDOE is only secondary student transfers. IAHE was quite surprised to hear these numbers. IAHE volunteers are busy answering many phone calls each week to counsel new homeschoolers, but we certainly have not taken calls from 10,000 new homeschoolers.
For the past several years, we have had concerns about trends that we have observed. We have shared these concerns with legislators, but we had no idea of the magnitude until we saw the data this week.
We have seen an increasing number of new homeschoolers whom have told us that the public school reported their enrollment on the IDOE website because the schools insisted they had to have a homeschool number or “register” with the state in order to legally homeschool. The IDOE website is very clear that only a parent or guardian may report enrollment by completing the online form.
IAHE was contacted by a family that informed us that the public school signed the student up for “something” but the parent didn’t know what it was. The parent said she was then told to call IAHE. IAHE called the IDOE only to find that the school had reported their enrollment as a homeschooler. As we counseled this family, we learned that this parent really was not at all interested in home education, but unfortunately THE SCHOOL had already added her to the IDOE database of those who report enrollment as a home educator. IAHE then referred this person to their former school or to the IDOE to learn about other educational options that would be a good fit for this family.
IAHE is deeply troubled to see some public schools “reporting enrollment” on the IDOE website on behalf of students only to discover as we counsel them over the phone that these families are in no way interested in home education.
What is the extent of the problem of public school’s mislabeling of students? It appears some of the public schools are reporting to IDOE that many or all of their students who are withdrawing from school as home school students, and we believe they are mixing legitimate homeschoolers with those who should be labeled as expelled or drop outs, but not homeschooling. We have to question if this is being done by principals so that drop-outs are not flagged and therefore it won’t affect the A-F grade that is assigned to public schools.
Our bigger concern is whether this purposeful mis-coding of dropouts as homeschoolers is going to lead to more regulation of home education in Indiana. We have already heard that lawmakers and judges have a distorted view of home education in our state due to the problems some public schools have created by this mishandling dropout students.
We need your help. If you moved your student from public school to home school high school, please fill out this simple survey* to help us validate the data we have received from the IDOE. We have not included student or family identifying information on this survey because we do not desire to keep data on specific people or families. Please feel to share this link to our survey with others who have moved a high school student to home school. Thank you!
*Please note that if you are enrolled in a charter school or any other type of school that uses vouchers, choice scholarship money, or any form of government-funding, please do not fill out this form. Home schools in Indiana are parent-directed, home-based, and privately-funded which means home educators do not take or desire government-funding due to the associated regulations that necessarily accompany taxpayer funding.