Compulsory Attendance Laws and Homeschooling
Homeschooling allows families to comply with Florida’s compulsory attendance laws, which apply to all children between the ages of 6 and 16. What this means is that you must enroll your child(ren) in one of the following:
- Public school
- Parochial school
- Private school, including homeschool “umbrella” schools
- A home education program, aka homeschooling
- A private tutor program
- A Personalized Education Program (PEP) – new for 2023-2024
Florida statutes provide multiple options for families who wish to homeschool. Each will meet the state’s compulsory attendance laws. Families may:
1. Enroll in a non campus-based private school, typically referred to as an Umbrella or Cover school, and follow the procedures set by the school;
2. Establish a home education program as defined in the statutes by sending a Notice of Intent to the local school superintendent, maintaining a log of activities and portfolio of work, and filing an annual evaluation using one of five evaluation choices.
3. Establish a Private Tutoring Program. The laws around this option are very vague and, if you choose to go this route, be sure to select a tutor who has experience in setting up a legally viable program for you.
4. Apply and be approved for a Personalized Education Program. This is not considered homeschooling, per se, but it allows qualifying families to teach their students at home. This option is provided by a state Scholarship Organization and is only available to families that meet certain income limits. Approved families must then adhere to the requirements of the PEP, which include developing a Student Education Plan, regular student testing, and more. Read about the PEP program on the Step Up for Students site.
While any of the above choices will provide compliance with Florida’s compulsory attendance laws, each has different implications for you. Some of these differences go to issues of recordkeeping and methods, but the heart of the distinction is whether you want to be accountable to the state or to a private entity.
Should you register with the superintendent or enroll in an Umbrella school?
Most homeschooling families choose either an Umbrella school or to register with the school district. Regardless which method you choose, you can educate your children at home, using the materials and methods you select. The key difference between enrolling in a private school and registering as a home educator is this:
- Umbrella school students are overseen by administrators you select. Identifying data about the student and samples of the student’s work are never shared with anyone outside of the private school (other than at your request).
- Home education students are overseen by government employees at the school district. Parents must file annual evaluations with the district and can be required to show their record-keeping and samples of the student’s work upon demand by the Superintendent.