Gov. Rick Scott signed into law the most significant legislation to impact homeschool families in years.
House bill 731 reins in school districts’ inquiries to parents who start home education programs. The legislation came in response to concerns among parents that districts were adding hurdles for homeschool registration. That likely contributed to a decline in homeschooling in some districts, even though state statistics show its popularity is growing statewide.
Home education advocates proposed similar legislation multiple times, but it did not pass until this year. Florida law requires homeschoolers to register with their local school districts. They must send a signed notice of intent to the school district superintendent with the students’ names, birthdates and addresses. The bill would bar districts from requiring other information from parents. It would also clarify that a home education program is not a school district program.
The statute does not require parents to provide proof of residency and a birth certificate. However, the Miami-Dade School Board adopted a policy requiring parents to provide those documents. And parents have complained of similar practices in other counties, including Broward, Hillsborough and St. Lucie.
Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mount Dora, the sponsor of HB 731, said she is pleased the bill passed.
“This is what I have consistently worked for: That there would not be an undue burden that districts are putting on these students that is not statutorily required,” she said.