Information and Sample Letters for Withdrawing Children From Public Schools
[NOTE: This article should not be considered legal advice. For specific legal questions, please consult with a licensed attorney. Homeschool families may be eligible for legal assistance by contacting Home School Legal Defense Association.]
Parents who withdraw their children from public school may do so between academic years (i.e., during summer break), or at anytime during the school year. You are not required to keep your child enrolled in the same school for the entire academic term. If you make the switch to homeschooling between academic years, you may choose not to send any correspondence to your public school. The law does not require it, and you may never be contacted by public school officials. Depending on the size of the community and the population of the school, the school officials may just assume your family moved out of the district or switched to a private school. Our experience has been that children withdrawn after the end of the school year usually are not contacted at all. On the other hand, parents who withdraw their children mid-year or after school has begun, are often contacted; and the public school requests some formal statement of withdrawal. If a student merely stops attending school without explanation, the school is likely to mark the child as absent without an excuse. Once again, depending on the size and individual policies of the school, the amount of time a student can be absent will vary, but usually the school will make some effort to determine if the student has left the district or is actually truant.
Whenever you are contact by any state/school authority figure, communicate with them in an error-free professional letter on your school letterhead, or contact your curriculum provider, if you have been so instructed. If you do not have letterhead for your school, then an error-free letter, neatly typed on plain paper will suffice. Of course, since your homeschool is your own private school, you are free to design and create your own letterhead (keeping in mind the need for professionalism). Keep photocopies of all correspondence sent or received on file. Below is a sample letter, but there is no specific format required. Please feel free to draft your own letter, but generally we have found that it is best to keep it brief. Illinois law requires no action on the part of parents when withdrawing their children from other private or parochial schools. However, once again, common sense dictates that some written notification be given to the private school, if only to state that the child’s attendance will be terminated.
When a child is transferred from one public school to another public school, it is usually a two letter process. The initial letter is a letter of transfer as described above. The second letter is a letter from the new school to the old school (within two weeks of the first letter) requesting the transfer of the child’s permanent school records.
You may choose to send a second letter requesting that your child’s permanent school record be transferred to your school’s address, or you may include another paragraph in your first letter making this request.
Public schools are usually not in the habit of sending these records to a child’s home and may initially offer some resistance. However, because you are operating a legal private school in the state of Illinois, they are required by law to send these records to your school.
Sample Letter for Withdrawing Your Child from Public School:
Local Public School
City, State, Zip
Dear [Principal’s name]:
This is to inform you that as of [date], our child, [Sidney Smith] will be withdrawing from attendance at [school’s name]. [Sidney] will be enrolled at our private home school [or your homeschool’s name goes here].
[You may wish to include a brief paragraph here expressing your appreciation for any programs, staff, teachers, or experiences of particular excellence. Remember, Philippians 4:8 tells us that whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, if there be any virtue or praise, to think on these things.]*
If you have any questions, please feel free to write to our school.
Your Typed Names
*At this point you may wish to end the letter, or include the following:
1) [Sidney Smith] receives instruction in all branches of education in the English language as required by law.
2) This instruction is in compliance with the requirements of the Compulsory Attendance Law, Section 26-1 of the Illinois School Code.
Note: About the paragraph above explaining “[your home school’s name] is a private home school”. This paragraph might be useful if you want to ‘grab the bull by the horns’ and leave no doubt as to your intent. It might also be useful if your local school principal know you are intending to homeschool and you want to allay any fears or affirm the legality of your private home school. You may decide that no mention of homeschooling is necessary, however, and choose not to label yourself by including this paragraph at all.
Sample Letter For Response to Contact Initiated by Public School Officials
(Re-write this letter in your own words)
We are writing in response to your inquiry of [insert date]. Our children are [or child is] receiving their [his/her] education in our private homeschool, and are therefore in compliance with the Illinois School Code, Compulsory Attendance Law (Section 26-1) of the State of Illinois.
Our children receive instruction in several subjects including language arts, mathematics, social studies, physical and biological sciences, fine arts, physical development and health [this of course will vary by grade level]. Instruction in these subjects is in the English language.
Our school meets standards as set forth for private schools operating in the home in the case of People vs. Levisen, 404 Ill. 574, 90 N.E. 2d 213 (1950). If you have any additional questions regarding our children’s [child’s] education, please feel free to express your concerns in writing to our school.
Your typed names