Monday, September 8, 2008


Last school year when I pulled Jacob out of tenth grade in January, I tried unsuccessfully to get information about enrolling Jacob in our local Career Center – a vocational school where high school kids go part of the day to learn trade skills, like automotive repair, welding, and cosmetology. But no one seemed to know much about enrolling a homeschooler, so I stopped pursuing it. I was, after all, the middle of the school year and trying to learn how to homeschool for the first time myself.

Learning a practical skill, like auto repair, is quite appealing. After all, I’m teaching my son Chemistry, Trigonometry, and other college-track courses; a practical course would actually supplement his education very nicely. Besides, he’d always be employable; cars constantly break down. And, of course, like my husband, Jacob would be able to fix his own car someday. Jacob loves working with his hands, so this would be a good fit for him.

So today I tried to sign him up for the auto repair class in the Career Center, a school subsidized by my tax dollars. Since I got only recordings when I tried to reach the Center by phone, I drove there.

The receptionist for the Center, which services ten school districts on the east side of my fair city, was very nice. “We’ve had other homeschoolers,” she smiled. “But you have to sign him up through your school district.”

Since I prefer meeting people face to face when trying to get something done, I drove to the school administrative offices and was directed to the woman to whom I send my IHIPs. I thought I was getting close to my goal with maybe another stop at the school, but she completed stunned me when she said that there’s a law against signing up my son at the Center!

I was stunned. A law against it?

Her supervisor gave me a printout from the New York State Education Department website, citing the answer to question 20. However, the printout she gave me had a longer answer:

Pursuant to Education law 3602-c, instruction in the areas of occupational and vocational education, gifted education, and education of student with disabilities may be furnished to students enrolled in nonpublic schools. With that exception, which is not applicable to home-instructed students, boards of education are not authorized to instruct pupils on a part-time basis (Appeal of Pope, 40 Ed Dept Rep 473, Decision No. 14,530; Appeal of Sutton, 39 Ed Dept Rep 625, Decision No. 14,332; Matter of Mayshark, supra)).

Was the Center receptionist wrong? Had they really had homeschoolers sign up through more lenient school districts? Is there anything more I can do?

“I called the assistant superintendent and superintendent,” said that woman I spoke to at the school district. She had taken it upon herself to pursue this matter and called me at home an hour ago.

So I’m really upset. Fuming. I know I sound like a toddler having a tantrum, but it’s not fair! Isn't there anything I can do???


Alasandra said...

Reading the law it sounds as IF private school students could enroll, so why are homeschoolers being discriminated against?

jugglingpaynes said...

NY is notorious for trying to exclude homeschoolers from everything. We were lucky we got back special ed. services last June.
I think that NY school districts are allowed to use their own discretion in deciding whether a homeschooler can be allowed in something considered an extracurricular. Unfortunately it sounds like you're in an unfriendly district. You should bring your question to the NYHEN site. They would know better what is going on.

In the meantime, my daughter suggested your husband teach your son some basic auto repair. They could have some father-son bonding time.

I hope that helps!

Carletta said...

It stinks that your son can't use a program your tax dollars are paying for. Is there a community college nearby that offers automotive courses?

The Reluctant Homeschooler said...

Thanks, jugglingpaynes, for the information. My husband does teach my son car repair, home repair, building projects, and anything else that he does. Been doing that for years, but a structured course in auto repair would cover a range of repair that he might not ever have exposure to. And Jacob would be learning from an experienced mechanic rather than a self-taught one (my husband) that does it on an occasional basis.

But the point was the not only public schools have access to this vocational center, but private schools also do. How much more private than a homeschool? But, no, seems like we're treated like second class citizens.

rozmom7 said...

New York does not allow students to enroll in vocational classes unless enrolled as a student in public school. They also do not consider a homeschool a private school - so there is no option there.

There is not much you can do - but pay your own way.

In general NY would rather we did not exist. If there is a loophole they will find it.

For extra curricular activities it is up to the individual school districts whether to allow homeschooler or not (such as sports or band.)

The Reluctant Homeschooler said...


What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
— Albert Pike, Scottish Rite Freemason (1809-1891)