Special Needs

What does the law say about homeschooling children with special education needs (SEN)?

24 P.S. 13-1327 Compulsory School Attendance (as related to Special Needs Students)

(d) Instruction to children of compulsory school age provided in a home education program, as provided for in section 1327.1 of this act, shall be considered as complying with the provisions of this section, except that any student who has been identified pursuant to the provisions of the Education of the Handicapped Ace (Public Law 91-230, 20 U.S.C. 1402 et seq.)as needing special education services, excluding those students identified as gifted and/or talented, shall be in compliance with the requirements of compulsory attendance by participating in a home education program, as defined in section 1327.1, when the program addresses the specific needs of the exceptional student and is approved by a teacher with a valid certificate from the Commonwealth to teach special education or a licensed clinical or certified school psychologist, and written notification of a such approval is submitted with the notarized affidavit required under section 1327.1(b). The supervisor of a home education program may request that the school district or intermediate unit of residence provide services that address the specific needs of the exceptional student in the home education program. When the provision of services is agreed to by both the supervisor and the school district or intermediate unit, all services shall be provided in the public schools or in a private school licensed to provide such programs and services.

Breaking it down:

    • If a child has been identified as having special needs, in addition to the regular affidavit and educational objectives to be submitted at the beginning of each year of homeschooling, the supervisor must also submit a letter from a teacher certified in special education approving the program and stating that the objectives do address the child's special needs. (Contact HIS if you need this service.)
    • The family may request special education services from the school district. The district may agree to provide those services on district property, or the district may decline the request. Any arrangement is dependent on the agreement of both the family and the district. So no one may force the other.
    • Some discussion focuses on the phrase "any child who has been identified... as needing special education services." Some people interpret that to mean identified in documentation to the school district.
      • For example, if a child was previously enrolled in the district and had an IEP, he has already been "identified...," and therefore must have the approval letter for beginning to homeschool.
      • The family may submit a letter to withdraw the IEP. The PA Department of Education (PDE) states on their website that if an IEP has been withdrawn, the letter of approval is no longer needed.
      • If the child has never been enrolled in the district or has been diagnosed with special needs after withdrawal from the district, the parent may puruse services through private providers and choose not to identify those special needs in documentation to the district. Sometimes these services are covered by insurance, reducing out-of-pocket expenses to the family.
      • Sometimes support services (i.e. TSS workers) are available through the county, which is separate from the school, and may help with homeschooling.
      • Each district and each family handles these issues differently, so it must be decided on a case-by-case basis.
    • How can HIS help me if I feel I need to send the letter of approval with my objectives and affidavit?
      • Contact HIS via email or through our Contact page on this website.
      • Email to Dr. Stoudt an electronic copy of the most recent IEP and any test results the school provided for your child.
      • Make an appointment for meeting with Dr. Stoudt in person, by phone, or by video -conference (Skype, FaceTime, Google HangOut) so she can become more familiar with your situation and your child's special needs.
      • Dr. Stoudt charges $25 for this initial consultation. Send payment to her by clicking on the paypal button below or by sending a check. Dr. Stoudt will then email to you the letter you need for submitting with your affidavit and educational objectives.

Is homeschooling children with special needs advisable?

  • It is a major commitment, but parents willing to take on that commitment have seen amazing results
  • It reinforces sound educational theory: (see my doctoral dissertation for more information).
    • Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs: Children must have basic needs (food, shelter, clothing, safety, belonging) met at the bottom 3 levels of Maslow's Hierarchy before they can get to the 4th level which is where true learning takes place. Some children with special needs spend so much energy trying to feel safe in school, that it hinders their learning. For some, the safety and stability at home can help facilitate learning.
    • Vygotsky says that learning is a social event, and that especially interaction with a mature model can facilitate learning. His theory also addresses the idea of "private speech," which we all use when we rehearse things we have learned. i.e. finish this phrase: i before e, except after ____... You just used private speech... some say it our loud (audible) and others practice silently. The smaller environment at home allows for more audible practice without disrupting the other 20 or so students in a classroom.
    • IEP - the purpose of an IEP is to establish an individualized program. In my mind, that describes many homeschool programs... especially when parents break out of a "boxed curriculum approach" and practice sustained personal adaptation by trying new materials when something is not working.
  • It is important to consider outside support, so you are not going it all alone. What type of support may be helpful?
    • Speech therapy
    • Occupational therapy
    • Physical therapy
    • Counseling (for both the student and the parents, to help cope with life's stresses)
    • Hearing or vision therapy
    • Behavioral support
    • Qualified childcare to give Mom and Dad a break
    • Neurological integration therapy (email Geraldine Gibble)
    • Annual achievement testing, even though not required by law, to help measure progress (Contact HIS if you are interested in this service.)

Resources:

  • Dr. Stoudt's brochure about whether or not to have your child formally diagnosed and/or identified in your paperwork to the district (PA Special Ed Homeschooling)
  • Materials used by families in my study:
    • Math-U-See
    • Teaching Textbooks
    • Saxon Math
    • Alpha Omega Math
    • SRA Math
    • Right Start Math
    • Life of Fred Math
    • Math on the Level
    • KONOS unit studies
    • Mystery of History
    • Time Travelers
    • Sonlight
    • Bob Jones
    • Timelines
    • A Beka (Textbooks & DVDs)
    • District textbooks
    • Lapbooks
    • A Time for Learning
    • Apologia Sciences
    • Switched-On Schoolhouse
    • Hayes Science
    • Considering God's Creation
    • Answers in Genesis
    • ACE Paces
    • Homemade flashcards
    • Write Shop
    • Visual Manna
    • McGuffeys, old English books, classic literature
    • Comprehensive Curriculum
    • Queen Homeschool Language
    • Shurley English
    • Alpha Omega Life Pacs
    • Switched-On Schoolhouse
    • Alpha Puppets (phonics)
    • Orton-Gilliingham method (dyslexia)
    • Easy Grammar
    • Great Leaps (fluency)
    • Earobics (phonemic awareness)
    • Reading Milestones
    • Charlotte Mason approach/spelling
    • Spell to Write and Read
    • Bob Jones spelling
    • All About Spelling (for dyslexia)
    • Spelling Power

Other Resources:

I'd love to hear from you. You can email me, find me on Facebook, call or text me at 570-861-5681.