Information below is Oregon-specific regarding the legal procedures to follow. If you have general home school questions, please contact me on the contact page. If you are in another state and have questions specifically regarding the law in your state, you can research through HSLDA -- Home School Legal Defense Association.
This page is authored by a non-attorney home school advocate and consultant. It's contents should not be construed as legal advice, but rather, the opinion of the author.
Although you might not see your child as a child with a disability, especially if the range of educational impact is moreso on the mild side, the fact is that "disability" is the legal word which also affords the student certain rights for his education. The type of disability can be mild ADHD, a reading or math disability, autism, Downs Syndrome, or severe physical or mental disabilities.
According to Oregon law, all home schoolers are required to notify their local Education Service District the fall after the student's 7th birthday. If you feel the disability is impacting the student's education, you might want to consider a formal diagnosis and formal ESD notification as a "disabled" child. Although a parent is not required to notify the ESD regarding their child's "disability," there are benefits to doing so. The immediate advantage is that it enables the parent to then develop a "Privately Developed Plan" (or PDP) to either exempt their child from the testing requirements of the home school law, or to modify the testing requirements (providing extra time, having certain portions of the test read to the child, etc.). The PDP determines whether or not the child has made "satisfactory educational progress." A PDP is developed by the parents and one or more private service providers of the parent's choosing. It is a homeschool version of a public school "IEP" developed for special education students.
PDP's do not need to be as extensive as a school IEP. Frequently, a
1-page PDP is all that is needed, especially if the student merely needs extra time for testing, but does not want to be exempt from testing. Contact Academic Learning Solutions if you would like assistance in developing a PDP for your child.
Beginning this "label" early in the child's school career is what helps to establish the right for these accommodations during college, and on pre-college entrance exams. Some of the accommodations and modifications available might be: additional time for tests and/or assignments, the ability to take the test in a closed room with no distractions, the ability to have the test read to him, or for alternative tests, the ability to get the school to provide someone else to take notes for the student. These are but a few of the accommodations that colleges provide when a student has been classified as a child with a disability.
This is one reason you should attempt to determine the level of impact that the disability has on your child's education, then predict if you believe that s/he might need supports in college, and begin to establish these early to demonstrate the student has been using these types of supports during home school, and still needs them. Otherwise it might be hard to convince a college that the student needs them.
The following resources explain the laws regarding students with special needs such as learning disabilities, ADHD, Downs Syndrome, Autism, etc. It is often helpful to read information from various sources which word the requirements in different ways.
CLICK HERE:OCEANetwork has an article they wrote at the time the 1999 Home School Law was passed. It contains an excellent section regarding disabilites, and will help you determine if you want to qualify your child as a child with special needs (a disability) or if you prefer to not do so.
CLICK HERE: OHEN has written a summary of information describing Privately Developed Plans (PDP's which parents of special needs students might prefer to use rather than having the student take the required achievement test at grades 3, 5, 8, 10.