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Kentucky to start randomly auditing homeschooling families as public school attendance plummets


(NaturalNews) Homeschooling is on the rise in Clinton County, Kentucky. Over the recent years, it has seen a 10 to 15 percent increase in homeschool families, and it is believed that this trend will continue in the coming years.

According to the Clinton County News, the increase is due to improved access to homeschool programs, personal or religious beliefs, and the increase in the public school age from 16 to 18 years old.

To ensure homeschooled children have access to the best education possible, the school district recently decided to conduct random audits of homeschool families during the summer months.

"As the number of homeschooled children in our county continues to increase, so does the need for the (school) district to ensure that all children in our county are getting a rigorous and effective education," said Julie York, Director of Pupil Personnel for the school district, in the Clinton County News.

While families have a constitutional right to homeschool their kids, Julie York said, "it is still the school district's responsibility to make sure the student is educated."

The audits will, randomly, examine both academic and attendance records of homeschool families.

Homeschoolers are taking money away from the district

Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) opposes any such audits as unconstitutional and is troubled by the underlying reason.

"We are also troubled by what appears to be the underlying motivation for this proposed meddling by school officials: money," HSLDA said.

Speaking at the school board meeting, Mike Reeves, the district's finance director, estimated that the district may lose almost $300,000 in SEEK (Support Education Excellence in Kentucky) funding because homeschool students are not being taught in public schools.

According to the HSLDA, that number would be closer to $435,000 given that there are about 85 homeschool students in Clinton County. Kentucky spends approximately $9,316 of SEEK funds on every student. However, the Kentucky Department of Education estimates that the SEEK funds for the 2016–2017 school year will drop down to $5,118 per pupil.

"It is obvious that Clinton County sees the increase of homeschoolers as taking money away from the district, and this is likely a significant reason in officials' desire to increase scrutiny of homeschool families," the HSLDA said.

Unconstitutional move

HSLDA Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt wrote a letter to Julie York in which he pointed out that parents who teach their children at home are operating as a private school. As such, they are required to keep attendance and academic records verifying that their children are being educated for the minimum term of 1,062 hours and 170 days.

Under the Best Practices Document drawn up by the Kentucky Directors of Pupil Personnel and homeschool leaders, parents who have given notice within the first two weeks of the beginning of each school year are a legitimate private school.

However, he notes that there is a difference between a homeschool and private school. Under the state law, "school officials cannot simply show up at a homeschool family's home and demand records as they might of a more traditional private school."

"No records should be demanded unless the school district has evidence that parents are not educating their children."

Schmidt hopes that Clinton County will respect the Best Practices Document and set aside the intent to audit homeschools randomly in Kentucky.

Sources for this article include:

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