Homeschooling in Florida

Here we separate fact from fiction when it comes to homeschooling in Florida.

How to legally homeschool in Florida

There are a few steps you must take to ensure you are in compliance with Florida's home education laws.

1. Send in a letter of intent to homeschool to your district superintendent.  This letter MUST contain the child's name, child's birth date, home address and the parent's name.  NOTHING more is required.  If you use a form provided by your school district they will most likely ask for information that is not legally required of you.  You do not need to list a phone number, social security number, vaccination records or grade level. 

2. Within the next 365 days you must have your child evaluated (see methods of evaluation below).  The results must be on the superintendents' desk no later than 365 days after you file your letter or intent, and every 365 days thereafter.  The due date is always the anniversary of your letter of intent, NOT the anniversary of when you sent in your last evaluation.

3.  You MUST maintain a portfolio that contains samples of your child's work throughout the year.  Samples do not need to be workbooks, they can be copies of letters written, art projects, photographs from events, etc.  Keep each portfolio for a period of no less than two years and have it available for superintendent inspection with a 15 day written notice.

4.  You MUST maintain a DATED list of books read and materials used.  Keep the list for a period of no less than two years and have it available for superintendent inspection with a 15 day written notice.

Evaluation Options

Here is a simple breakdown.  You must pick ONE method.

-Annual portfolio evaluation by a FL certified teacher.  The teacher can teach any subject, any grade.  This evaluation is due exactly 365 days after you file your letter of intent to homeschool with your district superintendent.  Many counties send threatening warning letters to homeschooling parents in the spring giving parents a due date for their evaluations, please know that THESE DUE DATES ARE NOT MANDATORY, nor is it with the school district's legal scope to ask for your evaluation before your 365 days are up.  The best course of action is to discard this warning letter.  You are not being singled out when you receive this letter, it is sent to every parent who has sent in a letter of intent to homeschool in the district.

-Student can take a nationally-normed test administered by a FL certified teacher.  

This test can be the SAT, ACT, etc.  The parent is responsible for finding a teacher to buy & administer the test. 

-Student can take a state assessment test, the FCAT. 

The FCAT is available for free in certain grades if you take your child to your locally zoned school for administration with the public school students.  Most districts send homeschooling parents a notification via mail of test administration times and dates.

-Annual portfolio review by a licensed psychologist.

-Any other method mutually agreed upon by the parent and the district superintendent.

MFH maintains a current list of homeschool friendly certified teachers who are willing to do portfolio evaluations and administer tests.

You have another choice!

Another method of educating your child at home is through the Florida Private School Laws.  Families that use this option are not legally considered homeschoolers, their children are considered private school students by the state.  This is an option for many families for many reasons, and only YOU can decide if it is the right choice for your family.  

Commonly referred to as "umbrella schools" or "600 schools", these private schools vary greatly in cost and benefits.  Umbrella schools can range from very low cost and offer only the basic record keeping to over $1000 per month with a full curriculum, sports programs and supplemental teaching. 

MFH maintains a large list of private "umbrella" schools in the state.

Yet a third choice!

You also have the option of having your child privately tutored by a licensed Florida teacher.  See the statute listing below for legal information.

The actual laws

The Florida Department of Education maintains a current listing of all the laws regarding home education.

Here you will see the statue numbers that correspond with each law.

1002.01 - Definitions of a Home Education Program

1003.21 - Regular school attendance

1002.41 - Home Education Programs

1006.51 - Student Standards for Participation in Interscholastic Extracurricular Activities

1009.53 - Bright Futures Scholarship

1007.27 – Dual enrollment in a college or university

1007.263– Admission into Community College

1007.261 -Admissions into state universities

1002.42 - Private school options

1002.43 - Private tutoring options

Some other interesting tidbits of information

You do not need to belong to the Florida Parent Educator's Association to homeschool legally or to obtain educator discounts.  MFH does offer discounted group membership in the FPEA for anyone who is interested.

MFH will provide you with an ID card upon your request.  This card can be used to obtain educator discounts at many local and online stores.

Your evaluation is not due "at the end of the year" or "at the end of the school year" or at any date give you in a form letter by the school district.  Your evaluation is always due on the anniversary of filing your letter of intent to homeschool, regardless of when that day occurs in the year!  The school district cannot enforce the due date they give in the above mentioned form letter.

You do not need to file a letter of intent each year.  The submission of your child's evaluation is considered confirmation that you will be homeschooling the upcoming 365 days.

According to Florida Statute 1009.53, homeschooled students may participate in the Bright Futures Scholarship Program.

According to Florida Statute 1006.15, homeschooled students in Florida have the right to participate in any extracurricular activities offered by their zoned public school.  The child must have proof of immunization, and may be required to participate in a school-hours class, such as band.  The child does not need to be enrolled as a part-time student of the school.  This does not apply to private schools.

You do not need to hold a teaching certificate or college degree to homeschool any ages or grades in Florida.