Because of a recent change in wording in the Ohio Revised Code 3321.04, there has been some confusion as to where Ohio homeschoolers should send their homeschool notifications.
For instance, the Xenia, Yellow Springs, Greeneview, Cedar Cliff, and Bellbrook-Sugarcreek school districts contracted the task of handling homeschool notifications to the Greene County Educational Service Center. But with the change in ORC 3321.04 from
“city or exempted village school district or the educational service center”
“the superintendent of the school district in which the child resides”
Why is this confusing?
Because the Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 3301-34 Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education already stated in 3301-34-03 Notification that
“A parent who elects to provide home education shall supply the following information to the superintendent”, and the superintendent is defined as ” the superintendent of schools of the city, county, or exempted village school district in which the parent resides.”
It was the wording in the ORC seemed to provide an exception to this by allowing an “educational service center” to provide excuses from compulsory attendance if certain criteria were met, which included an exemption for home instruction. Now the relevant portions of the ORC 3321.04 state:
Excuses from future attendance at or past absence from school or a special education program may be granted for the causes, by the authorities, and under the following conditions:
(A) The superintendent of the school district in which the child resides may excuse the child from attendance for any part of the remainder of the current school year upon satisfactory showing of either of the following facts:
(2) That the child is being instructed at home by a person qualified to teach the branches in which instruction is required . . .
Since both the Ohio Administrative Code and Ohio Revised Code instruct homeschooling parents to send their notification directly to the school superintendent, PEACH recommends that homeschoolers in these districts mail homeschool notifications to the superintendent’s office in compliance with the OAC and ORC.
As mentioned, some school superintendents contract the processing of homeschool notifications to other educational services offices. However, homeschoolers are required to follow the Ohio Code to the letter, so we believe the local school district should do so as well. School officials shouldn’t ask homeschoolers to ignore the letter of the law for any reason, nor should they attempt to ‘interpret’ the law and make requests or demands that are not specified in the ORC or OAC as applicable to homeschoolers.
One thing to take into consideration: if the superintendent’s office in your district contracts the handling of notifications to an educational service center, and homeschoolers send their notification to the superintendent, the school district office will most likely forward it to the educational service center, which could result in homeschoolers waiting longer than usual to receive their excuse letters. However, the law still requires that the superintendent “review the information submitted within fourteen calendar days of receipt thereof and shall determine if it is in compliance”.
PEACH recommends that homeschoolers send notifications certified with a return receipt to provide proof the notification was sent, and on what date it was received.
UPDATE: I spoke to Xenia School Superintendent Pro Tem Denny Morrison on the phone today, and he assured me that if homeschoolers in his district send their notifications to his office, he will forward them to the GCESC as quickly as possible. He is not advising homeschoolers to ignore the Ohio Code on this issue, and will do whatever he can to expedite the homeschool notification/excuse letter process.