Rhode Island law requires homeschoolers to submit a letter of intent (LOI) to the local school committee for approval each year they home educate. This process can feel intimidating and nerve-wracking, but it doesn’t have to be when you are empowered with the correct information!
Who/Where do I send my LOI to?
Superintendents are responsible for collecting, reviewing, and passing the LOI to the School Committee in most districts. Some Superintendents delegate this responsibility to the Assistant Superintendent, Curriculum Director, or other administrator in his office.
All of the RI school districts maintain websites listing the Superintendent’s address. It is not necessary to address the envelope or LOI to a specific person. If you mail your LOI to the Superintendent’s office, his staff will process it to the correct person.
You may want to send your letter of intent certified mail to assure it is received. Or take two copies to the Superintendent’s office. Ask them to stamp both copies with “Date Received. Leave one copy with them and keep the other copy for your files.
Do NOT mail your LOI to the actual school or principal.
When do I send my LOI?
RI law does not specify deadlines for the schools to receive our LOIs, nor are we required to follow the public school calendar. So, technically, you can send it any time you want.
RI public school year calendar runs August/September to June, so administrators expect to receive the LOI June-September. A few policies state a deadline, but this is more than the law requires.
In order to maintain a pleasant working relationship with the district, it is reasonable to submit your LOI from June through September.
What do I include in my LOI?
You may view and copy a sample LOI here.
Because of differing district policies, there may be variations to your LOI. Here are a few differences:
- Age/Birthdate – There is some debate as to whether it is necessary to include age, grade, or date of birth. We suggest giving the least amount of information possible to retain parental and homeschool rights for all RI families while still obeying RI statutes.
- Curriculum – Some school departments may ask for a list of curriculum for subjects required by RI law. We ask that parents simply list the “courses” that they will be teaching, as the law does not require curriculum, but that the School Committee approve a “course” of instruction. Courses would include, for example: phonics, Arithmetic, Algebra, World History, American Literature, etc, not textbooks with author and publisher.
- Science – Science is not a required subject in RI. We recommend that you teach it anyway!
- Civics – RI history, and US history and government do not need to be taught every year, only “substantially equal to the same extent” as these subjects are required to be taught in the public schools. For example, RI schools typically teach RI History in the 4th grade. It is not included every year K-12.
- Phone Number – We recommend you never give the district your phone number. If the district calls you, we recommend you request they mail/email you their request. While a phone call may be quick and simple it does not provide documentation if a problem arises in the future.
- Email Address – Email has been found to be a quick and easy means of communicating with the district while still maintaining a necessary paper trail.
When will I receive approval from the district?
- That depends on when you sent your LOI, if the person who reviews the LOI was in the office, and when the School Committee meets.
- Generally, anywhere from 1-6 weeks.
- However, if you submit an LOI in May/June don’t be surprised if you do not receive an approval letter until August/September. It really varies from district to district.
- Be aware that some districts do not send approval letters. Unless you need the official documentation, there is no need to contact the district office.
What do I do with this packet the district mailed to me?
- Districts often send forms to new homeschoolers in their districts. It is nothing to be alarmed about. Often it is a formality and they are not expecting you to return the forms.
- You do NOT need to a) sign a form provided by the school dept, b) give lesson plans or time indications for each subject, or c) report more often than once or possibly twice a year.
- You can resend your LOI with a note asking it be sent to the School Committee for approval.
- Or you can wait. Sometimes the administrator will forward your LOI for approval at the same time they mailed you the forms.
Do I have to wait for approval before I can begin homeschooling?
- You can begin homeschooling the day you send your LOI. You do not need to wait for approval.
- Be aware that if you have withdrawn your student from the public school you might receive truancy notices until the Superintendent’s office communicates with the Principal’s office.
- Also be aware that some school administrators (usually a principal or elementary school secretary) will say that you need official approval first. They are wrong.
Contact your RIGHT Chapter Representative for specific information as each school district has different requirements.
If you have difficulty gaining approval from your school district, please contact your Chapter Representative or the State Coordinator.