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Local PS elem. Principal called me this morning...


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to tell me that she reviewed my portfolio and there were some "issues" she wanted to discuss and that the portfolio was "missing" certain requirements. :glare: Background: this is the FIRST year we have had to turn in our actual portfolios. All previous years our evaluator report was sufficient. Soooo...I'm thinking, "Here we go...". She said she needed to meet with me. I'm thinking, um, not gonna happen. So I politely ask what was indeed "missing" (as I am certain I included everything AND my evaluator signed off on my portfolio, etc.). She said there wasn't evidence of certain subjects. Well, I quoted the PA homeschool law to her about required subjects in elementary school and how we are not required to teach EACH subject EVERY year (she was referring to music, art, PE, civics). I explained how I DID include a description of what my son did for PE and music and all other subjects for which we did not complete "worksheets'. She said she must have missed it or it "fell out". Umm...no...it was in PAGE PROTECTORS! She then went on to express her concern about my son's reading level. Yes, we are WELL aware he is "behind". She went on ad nauseum about how reading is so important, blah, blah, blah like I didn't realize that or was somehow NOT teaching him to read. I tried to maintain some semblance of courtesy but found myself getting more and more angry by the minute. I had to email her my subject descriptions and am still just so ticked. Why? I don't know. I'm just so sick of being held to higher standards than the local ps. So sick of our local district trying to require more than the law requires and not liking this new policy of the principals looking over our stuff. Rant over. Thanks for listening.

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I totally understand your rant. I'm sure there are kids in her school who are behind in their reading skills- does she put the teachers through the same wringer she put you through? Doubt it.

 

Honestly, I'd rather another teacher look over the portfolio than an administrator.

 

:grouphug:

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So sick of our local district trying to require more than the law requires and not liking this new policy of the principals looking over our stuff. Rant over. Thanks for listening.

 

 

:grouphug::grouphug::grouphug:

 

Well, but the law hasn't changed. The state doesn't get to make new "policies" that are not required by law (unless the law says it may, which PA's law does not). The law doesn't give school principals any authority to read the portfolios or to be involved in the process in any way, including calling parents to discuss anything with them.

 

HSLDA opponents might not like what I'm going to say, but I'll say it anyway: This is where my HSLDA membership would come in handy, because I'd be refusing to have any conversation with the principal regarding anything in the portfolio and I'd be ready for the consequences. :mad:

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:grouphug::grouphug::grouphug:

 

Well, but the law hasn't changed. The state doesn't get to make new "policies" that are not required by law (unless the law says it may, which PA's law does not). The law doesn't give school principals any authority to read the portfolios or to be involved in the process in any way, including calling parents to discuss anything with them.

 

HSLDA opponents might not like what I'm going to say, but I'll say it anyway: This is where my HSLDA membership would come in handy, because I'd be refusing to have any conversation with the principal regarding anything in the portfolio and I'd be ready for the consequences. :mad:

 

 

:iagree::iagree::iagree:

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to tell me that she reviewed my portfolio and there were some "issues" she wanted to discuss and that the portfolio was "missing" certain requirements. :glare: Background: this is the FIRST year we have had to turn in our actual portfolios. All previous years our evaluator report was sufficient. Soooo...I'm thinking, "Here we go...". She said she needed to meet with me. I'm thinking, um, not gonna happen. So I politely ask what was indeed "missing" (as I am certain I included everything AND my evaluator signed off on my portfolio, etc.). She said there wasn't evidence of certain subjects. Well, I quoted the PA homeschool law to her about required subjects in elementary school and how we are not required to teach EACH subject EVERY year (she was referring to music, art, PE, civics). I explained how I DID include a description of what my son did for PE and music and all other subjects for which we did not complete "worksheets'. She said she must have missed it or it "fell out". Umm...no...it was in PAGE PROTECTORS! She then went on to express her concern about my son's reading level. Yes, we are WELL aware he is "behind". She went on ad nauseum about how reading is so important, blah, blah, blah like I didn't realize that or was somehow NOT teaching him to read. I tried to maintain some semblance of courtesy but found myself getting more and more angry by the minute. I had to email her my subject descriptions and am still just so ticked. Why? I don't know. I'm just so sick of being held to higher standards than the local ps. So sick of our local district trying to require more than the law requires and not liking this new policy of the principals looking over our stuff. Rant over. Thanks for listening.

 

:grouphug: This is one of the top 10 reasons I refuse to move across the river to Pennsylvania. Man, I would hate your HS laws. Sorry you're going through this. Hope it works out in your favor. :grouphug:

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:grouphug::grouphug::grouphug:

 

Well, but the law hasn't changed. The state doesn't get to make new "policies" that are not required by law (unless the law says it may, which PA's law does not). The law doesn't give school principals any authority to read the portfolios or to be involved in the process in any way, including calling parents to discuss anything with them.

 

HSLDA opponents might not like what I'm going to say, but I'll say it anyway: This is where my HSLDA membership would come in handy, because I'd be refusing to have any conversation with the principal regarding anything in the portfolio and I'd be ready for the consequences. :mad:

 

:iagree: What does the law actually say? I wouldn't turn anything over to anyone if that was not required by LAW. I agree with Ellie on this, less is more, including phone conversations with school officials. Could you just not answer the phone? Everything should be communicated ONLY IN WRITING.

 

Hang in there.

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:iagree: What does the law actually say? I wouldn't turn anything over to anyone if that was not required by LAW. I agree with Ellie on this, less is more, including phone conversations with school officials. Could you just not answer the phone? Everything should be communicated ONLY IN WRITING.

 

Hang in there.

 

:iagree::iagree::iagree:

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:grouphug: Sue, what a pain in the neck! I'm so sorry your local district is being difficult. I would be putting the burden on her to show you exactly where you did not comply with the law, and it all needs to be via certified mail, IMO.

 

UGH. So ridiculous. Our district is generally friendly to the homeschoolers (though one year they managed to lose the middle page to my paperwork and asked me, nicely, to send another one), but they do send things like their own evaluation form for my evaluator to fill out, and it has things on it that are not required by the law. (We don't use it; our evaluator uses her own form that only has the required items on it.) It's a bunch of nonsense, isn't it?

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:grouphug::grouphug::grouphug:

 

I'm so sorry, but so happy you kept your head with her.

 

to tell me that she reviewed my portfolio and there were some "issues" she wanted to discuss and that the portfolio was "missing" certain requirements. :glare: Background: this is the FIRST year we have had to turn in our actual portfolios. All previous years our evaluator report was sufficient. Soooo...I'm thinking, "Here we go...". She said she needed to meet with me. I'm thinking, um, not gonna happen. So I politely ask what was indeed "missing" (as I am certain I included everything AND my evaluator signed off on my portfolio, etc.). She said there wasn't evidence of certain subjects. Well, I quoted the PA homeschool law to her about required subjects in elementary school and how we are not required to teach EACH subject EVERY year (she was referring to music, art, PE, civics). I explained how I DID include a description of what my son did for PE and music and all other subjects for which we did not complete "worksheets'. She said she must have missed it or it "fell out". Umm...no...it was in PAGE PROTECTORS! She then went on to express her concern about my son's reading level. Yes, we are WELL aware he is "behind". She went on ad nauseum about how reading is so important, blah, blah, blah like I didn't realize that or was somehow NOT teaching him to read. I tried to maintain some semblance of courtesy but found myself getting more and more angry by the minute. I had to email her my subject descriptions and am still just so ticked. Why? I don't know. I'm just so sick of being held to higher standards than the local ps. So sick of our local district trying to require more than the law requires and not liking this new policy of the principals looking over our stuff. Rant over. Thanks for listening.
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I'd put the onus back on the district. If they feel there hasn't been an appropriate education, could they please document in writing via certified mail, as is specified in PA law.

 

:iagree:

 

I would flip if a principal called me up. I hand deliver my portfolios to the superintendent's office, and pick them up in person when they're through.

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(as I am certain I included everything AND my evaluator signed off on my portfolio, etc.)

 

My first call would have been to my evaluator. If she is signed off on the portfolio then she should know the requirements of the law. She should be able to help you address any concerns from the district. I would not provide them anything outside the law. I know many here do not like HSLDA but we had a big issue in our district a couple of years ago. All it took was one letter from their attorney and all the crazy requirements went away. This all occurred because an assistant superintendent took over the portfolio review.

 

I am sorry this is all happening. It is such a pain in the rear!

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HSLDA opponents might not like what I'm going to say, but I'll say it anyway: This is where my HSLDA membership would come in handy, because I'd be refusing to have any conversation with the principal regarding anything in the portfolio and I'd be ready for the consequences. :mad:

 

:iagree: I know a lot of people here don't like HSLDA, but this is exactly why I belong. They would be my first call.

JMO,

Joy

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I answered upthread that I'd put the burden back on the district to show where you are not meeting the law, put it in writing, sent certified mail.

 

I do think sometimes it is worth trying to gently educate and keep things congenial, but there's also a tipping point where it isn't worth it. I believe most things can be resolved by gently pressing back, asking for specific parts of the law that you are not in compliance with....if you are in compliance, they are going to have a tough time coming up with them in many cases.

 

That said, I've decided if we need to push back very firmly for some reason, I'd prefer to pay a few hundred bucks to an attorney and have them draft a letter. In the long run, I personally think that the number of times you'd have to do that within a district are probably very few, and I've decided for my own family that's a better value than an HSLDA membership at a hundred bucks per year "just in case."

 

If you ask around on some of the yahoo and other support groups, there are a few HSing mom attorneys who may be able to assist you if it gets to that point. We have one locally, and I know she's helped out a few moms through the years. I'd happily pay her for her time, and I still think it would likely work out to be a bargain over the HSLDA membership for the rest of our HSing years. I wouldn't anticipate needing an attorney's assistance most years.

 

If you put the burden of proof back on them, I think in a lot of cases they back off. Some people go in guns blazing about it, some people opt for the "Oh, I didn't know that was part of the law. Can you show me where it says that?" type of feigned ignorance.

 

Our district gave parents issues last year, but we weren't officially reporting at that time. We filed our affidavit, but I'm waiting to see how things shake out for those who submitted ports in the district this year...wondering what we'll be up against when it is time for port review at the end of the 2012-2013 school year.

 

We had a personnel change and the new person was making numerous extralegal requests of HSers in the district (trying to obligate them to use a district-generated form for the evaluator that included info beyond the scope of the law, trying to mandate specific port size, format, and labeling, etc. etc.).

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What a pain!

 

My district did accept my portfolio......but then they sent me a letter saying that if I planned to homeschool this year I needed to 'submit an application for home education, available at the Superintendent's office, by August first'......

 

Application? :lol:

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Application? :lol:

Oh, isn't that special??! :001_huh: :lol:

 

Please tell me in PA you eventually get to the point where you can laugh at the ridiculous requests and not have your blood pressure rise over them. Because mine does, even when I'm reading about other people's run-ins. :glare:

Edited by Momof3littles
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I am not from PA so only have cursory knowledge of the law there but the one thing I would recommend is to not talk over the phone. I would politely request that they put everything in writing and you respond in writing as well. You always want a paper trail for these kind of issues. Too often people will forget, intentionally or not, something they did or did not say in a conversation. Having a paper trail is great security.

 

Sorry you have to deal with this. I can only imagine how frustrating/ annoying/ aggravating etc it must be. :grouphug:

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What a pain!

 

My district did accept my portfolio......but then they sent me a letter saying that if I planned to homeschool this year I needed to 'submit an application for home education, available at the Superintendent's office, by August first'......

 

Application? :lol:

 

Application, eh!? :lol: :lol: :lol:

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I am not from PA so only have cursory knowledge of the law there but the one thing I would recommend is to not talk over the phone. I would politely request that they put everything in writing and you respond in writing as well. You always want a paper trail for these kind of issues. Too often people will forget, intentionally or not, something they did or did not say in a conversation. Having a paper trail is great security.

 

Sorry you have to deal with this. I can only imagine how frustrating/ annoying/ aggravating etc it must be. :grouphug:

 

:iagree:

 

If the principal is overstepping his bounds (which I think he may be,) you will have written evidence of that, which could be very important.

 

Additionally, if you make it a little inconvenient for him (by asking for everything in writing,) that might be enough to get him to back off right away, particularly if your letter requests that he provide you with the specific statutes that allow him to request such detailed information.

 

Be VERY specific in your letter, detailing the fact that your portfolio was approved, as well as your phone conversations with the principal, with dates or approximate dates. Be very professional and polite, but demand a copy of the part of PA law that applies to your situation.

 

Good luck. This is so stressful! :grouphug:

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:iagree:

 

If the principal is overstepping his bounds (which I think he may be,) you will have written evidence of that, which could be very important.

 

Additionally, if you make it a little inconvenient for him (by asking for everything in writing,) that might be enough to get him to back off right away, particularly if your letter requests that he provide you with the specific statutes that allow him to request such detailed information.

 

Be VERY specific in your letter, detailing the fact that your portfolio was approved, as well as your phone conversations with the principal, with dates or approximate dates. Be very professional and polite, but demand a copy of the part of PA law that applies to your situation.

 

Good luck. This is so stressful! :grouphug:

:iagree: I'd even consider writing to him/her first and telling him that after today's telephone conversation that you are officially asking that all contact pertaining to his role in your children's evaluation be done in writing.

 

Then if/when he calls you can note the dates/times and call it harassment if ti gets to be annoying.

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A question I have always wondered about, in places where they have to approve portfolios or have some other sort of oversight, what does actually happen when kids are behind? Can they force you to put your kids in brick and mortar schools?

In PA, you have to demonstrate "progress in the overall program" or something like that. So, my understanding is that OP's child being "behind" in reading isn't enough for them to act. Is he still *progressing*? I imagine so. And I don't think one subject is enough for them to deem there isn't progress in the overall program. Hopefully one of the experts on the law in PA can clarify or elaborate. (eta: and even if they have issues with the "progress in the overall program" there is a sequence of steps that must be taken-certified letter, 20 days for home education supervisor to respond, etc. The parent has the right to due process as well.

 

In some states, I think test scores can be used in that way (minimum threshold must be met in order to continue HSing) My understanding is that in PA, they are just one piece. So if a child's port demonstrates "progress in the overall program," test results alone probably aren't enough to force the child back into school.

 

eta: that also brings up what is the definition of "behind." I am not an HSLDA fan, but they have a case up where a PA school district tried using public school standards against a HSing family, saying the child hadn't met those standards for the grade level, and therefore the home education program was questioned.

I think part of the confusion over that is that our PDE liaison made changes to the PDE site. One change made to the home education portion was to put a link to public school standards for each grade level up on the website. When asked, she said this was done as a "service to homeschoolers" who want to be sure they were "meeting or exceeding" public school standards. However, it was placed under *school district oversight* on the PDE page. I think perhaps that it is obvious that could be a source of confusion and result in districts thinking they have the right to apply PS standards to home education students. She didn't seem to think it was an issue. I suspect that's what happened in the case HSLDA cites on their website based on the timing of the PDE site changes and that incident. Nothing in PA law states that those PS standards must be met by home education students, and obviously due to differences in scope and sequence, etc. even a child thriving in the home environment may not meet PS standards in certain subjects.

Edited by Momof3littles
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I agree with pp's that you should ask for EVERYTHING in writing from now on. Don't think you can explain anything or have a friendly conversation. Assume from now on this person has an agenda, and frankly, is out to get you. I know this thinking goes counter to how most of us naturally are, but it's the way it is.

 

I also am irritated by the idea that homeschoolers are held to a higher standard than everyone else. I would feel like (but wouldn't) saying to this principal that maybe their time would be better spent getting the public school kids "up to reading level" instead of harassing homeschoolers.

 

This guy is abusing his position.

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:grouphug::grouphug::grouphug:

 

Well, but the law hasn't changed. The state doesn't get to make new "policies" that are not required by law (unless the law says it may, which PA's law does not). The law doesn't give school principals any authority to read the portfolios or to be involved in the process in any way, including calling parents to discuss anything with them.

 

HSLDA opponents might not like what I'm going to say, but I'll say it anyway: This is where my HSLDA membership would come in handy, because I'd be refusing to have any conversation with the principal regarding anything in the portfolio and I'd be ready for the consequences. :mad:

 

:iagree: :grouphug:

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Wait, is he evaluating or just calling you? Because if the other posters are correct, he doesn't even get to SEE the portfolio, much less call you to discuss it.

 

If the other posters are right, I'd just go into the school office, get the ports back, and tell the secretary that the principal misunderstood the homeschooling law, and he can just get back to supervising the kids at his school, as yours doesn't not come under his official oversight. "Thank so much!" Bright smile, wave bye bye.

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The principals of each school that my child WOULD be in evaluated the portfolios of all homeschoolers this year. This was the first year it was done b/c we have a new super. I wasn't sure the legality of it, but didn't fuss...until now. Having said principal call me (and she was very nice, btw) was just irksome. I didn't like having to "defend" the book choices of my 3rd grader. She said she checked the reading level of all the books he read and they were not "up to par" with where he should be ending the 3rd grade! :glare: I didn't want to make waves and have my name be "flagged" as being "difficult", but otoh...I'm not liking this. I will have to call my evaluator and look into the law a bit more. If you are in PA, do you know if anyone other than the administrator is allowed to evaluate the portfolios?

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A question I have always wondered about, in places where they have to approve portfolios or have some other sort of oversight, what does actually happen when kids are behind? Can they force you to put your kids in brick and mortar schools?

 

In florida you have the portfolio evaluated by a certified teacher, and there are plenty of teachers in the homeschool community, so it is really more of a policing of our own. And all you have to show is that they are making "progress commensurate with their ability." The evlauator (of your own choosing, and there are plenty to choose from...it can even be a friend or family member) signs a form that says those exact words, and NOTHING else. Then you send in the form. No one but the evaluator ever sees the portfolio, you don't send it in, etc. just the letter that says "progress commensurate with ability".

 

IF the evaluator said you were NOT making progress, and you couldn't find a different evaluator that said you were, then you go on probation for the next year (or more?) and have to show at the end of THAT period that they are making progress. I've never heard of it actually happening.

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The principals of each school that my child WOULD be in evaluated the portfolios of all homeschoolers this year. This was the first year it was done b/c we have a new super. I wasn't sure the legality of it, but didn't fuss...until now. Having said principal call me (and she was very nice, btw) was just irksome. I didn't like having to "defend" the book choices of my 3rd grader. She said she checked the reading level of all the books he read and they were not "up to par" with where he should be ending the 3rd grade! :glare: I didn't want to make waves and have my name be "flagged" as being "difficult", but otoh...I'm not liking this. I will have to call my evaluator and look into the law a bit more. If you are in PA, do you know if anyone other than the administrator is allowed to evaluate the portfolios?

 

I think the law clearly states that the superintendent is to handle the portfolio. The principal was out of line, even if she was well-meaning. Our local district is also now requiring that all paperwork and portfolios is to be turned into the individual schools instead of the adminstrator office. I don't think this is correct under the law.

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Sue, perhaps you could pm Pauline. She is very helpful on matters pertaining to legal issues in PA.

 

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/member.php?u=17757

 

Also, here's her website, which I studied extensively when we were considering a move from NJ to PA (which I'm glad we did not do).

 

http://home.comcast.net/~askpauline/index.html

 

http://home.comcast.net/~askpauline/hs/homeschoolportfolios.html

 

http://home.comcast.net/~askpauline/hs/homeschoollaw.html

 

The portfolio (including the Log of Reading Materials, samples of the student’s work, and, in 3rd, 5th, and 8th grades, scores from Standardized Testing) and the evaluator’s report must be submitted to the school district superintendent by June 30. The superintendent will review the portfolio and evaluator’s report. Again assuming all is well (and it generally is for 98+% of home educating families), the superintendent will return your materials and you can continue homeschooling.

I do sincerely hope this helps! :grouphug:

Edited by Sahamamama
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I will be drafting a letter this evening, stating the section of homeschool law which states that the superintendent is to oversee the portfolio and whether or not an appropriate education is taking place. I think our superintendent bit of more than he could chew and was "delegating". If the district gives me grief about it, I'm prepared to quickly join HSLDA and have an attorney contact them on our behalf. While said principal was very cordial, the tone of her voice was also very "condescending". My son is making adequate progress, an appropriate education is taking place and the most important piece to this is this: MY EVALUATOR SIGNED OFF ON OUR PORTFOLIOS!. She stands behind her evals and has even said to have the district contact her if we have any problems. I'm beyond ticked now. Thanks for all the :grouphug: and help though, everyone. :D

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Ha, I like an early response, suggesting you ask the principal to put it in writing. Well, further, ask her to go over all your documentation, and give you specific guidelines of whatever learning goals they have (and they will have standards written out to the nth degree) that you are not doing. That will make her back off, in a quick hurry! It is grueling work to assign SOLs to each and every learning activity or curricula. I did it the first year out of PS. I tried to use Virginia's SOLs as my guide. Furthermore, if she presses you, write an I.E.P. for your child. That gives you the right (you giving yourself the right, actually) to have different standards, and accommodations that your child might need.

 

Having said all that, I also am wondering if that principal was not actually making a thoughtful criticism of your schooling, but simply thinking that by sounding critical (demeaning and putting you down even) she was feeling she is doing her job. She works for the school. She believes in the school. Anything different, is a negative to what she believes.She may have been told that she was supposed to find holes in your portfolio. She may be justifying her job by devaluing yours. Possibly, she feels that her comments are not critical, but are helpful. I would totally react to her as if she were policing me. It would be bad. It would take me days to get over this and get a professional attitude. Hopefully, I'd make it a challenge to see what I could get out of her. Maybe get some teacher materials, access to online teacher helps, surely there are some resources they could offer you.

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This is just crazy, and my complete sympathies for having to deal with people making your life harder/ more aggravated without actually contributing something to your education of your children. :grouphug:

 

How did PA end up with such intrusive laws? Is there any sign of deregulation in the future?

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