Homeschooling in RI-101
RI is an “approval” state, meaning that our law states that the local
school committee needs to approve our course of instruction. That is
not to say that we need their approval in order to homeschool or that
they are approving our right to homeschool. It is just a matter of our
“course” meeting the requirements of RI law. What are those
requirements? For the full law go to our legal page.
But, in a nutshell, we must cover the required subjects for the right # of days.
What do I send to the school district?
This is where things get tricky. For detailed info about what your school district requires, please contact your chapter leader or a fellow-homeschooler in your district.
In general in the state of RI it is expected that you:
•Send a Letter of Intent (LOI) - the LOI should simply state that you intend to homeschool your child for the 2008-2009 school year. You should state that attendance will be substantially equal to that required by law in public schools (180 days) and that RI law will be followed with regard to required subjects. You may want to list the subjects in your letter to demonstrate that you know the law. They are reading, writing, geography, arithmetic, English (from RI 16-19-2); civics (16-22-2); health and physical education (16-22-4).
• Ideally that should be it, and that is where I would start. If they want something else, they will ask for it. If you know from the counsel of other homeschoolers or the district’s official policy that the school requires curriculum, you may attach a list of books or resources covering the subjects required above. Some individuals feel that curriculum is not required in order to comply with the law.
• If the school policy asks for an end-of-the-year report of progress, you may want to state in the LOI how you plan to do that. Some schools have asked for portfolios, testing, etc. but Commissioner of Education rulings support the parents’ method of measurement.
What shouldn’t I send?
There are some things that we feel are beyond what is necessary to comply with RI law, among them are:
• Signing forms provided by the school dept. Some are harmless and some are contractual. You do not want to sign a form that will limit you making changes to your curriculum or making other adjustments throughout the year.
• Giving lesson plans or time indications for each subject. This is not necessary information for approval and negates the freedom of homeschooling to children’s interests and adjusting schedules and times to children’s needs and/or giftedness.
• Reporting more often than once a year. We have argued many times before school committees that homeschoolers should not be required to report more than once a year. There are policies that ask for quarterly or biannual reports from homeschoolers but private schools, governed by the same law, only report to the DOE once a year. This is up to your discretion.
• There is also some debate as to whether it is necessary to include age, grade, or date of birth in the LOI.
• Medical or vaccination information. This is private information and is not required for homeschool students in RI.
We suggest giving the least amount of information possible to retain parental and homeschool rights for all RI families while still obeying RI statutes.
Where do I send it?
In most (possibly all) school districts in RI, the Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, or the Curriculum Director has been delegated by the School Committee for managing homeschool LOI. In some cases, there is another individual who has been given this responsibility. It is safe to say that sending your LOI to the Superintendent will get it into the proper hands. You should, however, send it certified, or have a copy stamped “received” so that you don’t run into truancy issues later, should they misplace your letter.