Umbrella School or Register with the Superintendent?
Of the three options available to Florida families homeschooling their children (establish a home education program, enroll in a private school, or maintain a private tutor program), only those families who choose the first option — establish a home education program — are counted in Florida state statistics about homeschooling. So when you read statistics concerning the number of homeschooled children in Florida, you can safely assume that the real number is at least double the stated number, since children being homeschooled through a private umbrella school are not counted as being homeschooled.
In fact, legally, children who are being homeschooled through a private school are considered to be private school students, NOT homeschoolers. While this distinction has no bearing on how you teach your child, it does have an impact on the laws that govern your program as well as the opportunities available to you.
This chart shows some of the legal differences between homeschooling through a private school and homeschooling by registering with the school district.
Feature Private School Home Education Statutes Register with Superintendent No Yes Submit a Letter of Intent No Yes Maintain Portfolio No Yes File Annual Evaluation with School District No Yes Possible “audit” of records by School District No Yes Advice from Experienced Homeschoolers Yes (usually) No Low Cost Yes Yes Parents Select Curriculum Yes Yes “Attendance” Requirements Yes (easy to meet) No Eligible for Bright Futures Scholarship Yes Yes Receive transcript, diploma, etc. Yes No Take Classes at Florida Virtual School Yes Yes Participate in Inter-Scholastic Extracurricular Student Activities No Yes (student may need to try out) Participate in dual enrollment programs Yes Yes
When looking at this chart, bear in mind that it reflects legal requirements and differences only. Private Umbrella schools for homeschoolers may set their own requirements regarding curriculum, testing, and so on. If this is an option you wish to pursue, you will want to talk to several schools so that you can find one that matches your educational philosophy, need (or lack thereof) for support, and budget.