Florida law offers three homeschool options:
- Homeschool statute: Parents must provide one-time notice to the local superintendent, maintain a portfolio of their children’s work, and have their children assessed annually (by standardized test or portfolio evaluation). There are no parent qualification, hours of instruction, or subject requirements. The assessments must be turned in to the local superintendent; if students are not making suitable educational progress parents will have a year to correct deficiencies.
- Umbrella school: Parents may enroll their children in a private school created to serve as a homeschool “umbrella” school. Parents must provide 180 days of instruction and maintain attendance and immunization records. There are no notification, parent qualification, subject, or assessment requirements.
- Private tutor: Parents with teaching certificates may homeschool under the private tutor option. Parents must provide 180 days of instruction and maintain basic records, but there are no notification, subject, or assessment requirements.
Most Florida homeschool parents use one of the first two options.
(1) Homeschool Statute
Florida defines a “home education program” as “sequentially progressive instruction of a student directed by his parent.” See Fla. Stat. § 1002.01(1). For Florida’s homeschool statute, see Fla. Stat. § 1002.41.
|Notification:||Parents must notify the local superintendent in writing within 30 days of beginning to homeschool. This notice must include the names, addresses, and birth dates of each student being homeschooled, and must be signed by the parent. This notice is not annual. Parents must also file a written notice of termination with the local superintendent when ceasing to homeschool. See Fla. Stat. § 1002.41(a).|
|Days or hours:||None.|
|Bookkeeping:||Parents must maintain a portfolio of records and materials, including (1) “A log of educational activities that is made contemporaneously with the instruction and that designates by title any reading materials used”; and (2) “Samples of any writings, worksheets, workbooks, or creative materials used or developed by the student.” This portfolio must be preserved for 2 years and must be made available for inspection by the local superintendent “upon 15 days’ written notice.” See Fla. Stat. § 1002.41(b).|
|Assessment:||Parents must provide for an annual educational evaluation documenting “the student’s demonstration of educational progress at a level commensurate with her or his ability.” Parents must file a copy of students’ annual educational evaluation with the local superintendent. There are several forms this evaluation may take: (1) The parent may choose a state certified teacher to evaluate the student’s educational progress “upon review of the portfolio and discussion with the student”; (2) The student may take a nationally normed student achievement test administered by a certified teacher; (3) The student may take a state student assessment test used by the school district and administered by a certified teacher, “at a location and under testing conditions approved by the school district”; (4) The student may be evaluated by a psychologist or school psychologist; or (5) the student may be evaluated by “any other valid measurement tool as mutually agreed upon” by the local superintendent and the parent. See Fla. Stat. § 1002.41(c)(1).|
|Intervention:||The district superintendent “shall review and accept the results of the annual evaluation.” However, if the student does not demonstrate educational progress “at a level commensurate with her or his ability” the superintendent will notify the parent in writing and give the parent one year to provide remedial instruction. Continuation of the home education program “shall be contingent upon the student demonstrating educational progress commensurate with her or his ability at the end of the probationary period.” See Fla. Stat. § 1002.41(c)(2).|
(2) Umbrella School: Private School
An individual homeschool may not operate as private school. However, parents who wish to homeschool may choose to enroll their children in a private school while educating them at home. Some Florida private schools exist for the sole purpose of enrolling homeschooled students and offering them services. For Florida’s private school statute, see Fla. Stat. § 1002.42. Parents enrolling their children in a private school must follow the rules laid out by that school.
|Notification:||Private schools must incorporate, register with the Department of Education, and file an annual database form.|
|Qualifications:||No state requirements.|
|Days or hours:||180 days or the hourly equivalent.|
|Subjects:||No state requirements.|
|Bookkeeping:||Private schools must maintain the basic information needed for filing the annual database form. Private schools must also keep attendance records and require copies of each student’s certification of school-entry health examination and a certification of immunization.|
|Assessment:||No state requirements.|
|Intervention:||No state requirements.|
(3) Private Tutor
For Florida’s private tutor statute, see Fla Stat. § 1002.43.
|Notification:||Private tutors must make any reports required by the state or the local school board.|
|Qualifications:||The private tutor must hold a state teaching certificate “to teach the subjects or grades in which instruction is given.”|
|Days or hours:||180 days or the hourly equivalent.|
|Bookkeeping:||Private tutors must keep records of and make regular reports about students’ attendance, and must keep any other records required by the state or the local school boards.|
Services Available to Homeschooled Students
|Part-time enrollment:||State law neither prohibits nor requires public schools to allow either homeschool and umbrella students to enroll for individual classes, leaving the matter up to the local school district.|
|Extracurriculars:||Both homeschool and umbrella students have full access to all extracurricular activities in their local public schools, including interscholastic athletics. See Fla. Stat. § 1006.15|
|Special needs:||Homeschooled students are eligible for special needs testing through their local public schools, but not to special needs services offered through these schools. Umbrella school students, in contrast, may have access to special needs services offered through their local public schools.|
|Other:||“Home education program students may receive testing and evaluation services at diagnostic and resource centers.” See Fla. Stat. § 1002.41|
Florida passed its homeschool statute in 1985. Before this, groups of homeschooling parents formed private “umbrella” schools to legally enroll homeschooled children while they were being educated at home. After the homeschool statute came into existence, creating a legal means of homeschooling with oversight from the local school districts, some parents continued to homeschool through the existing private “umbrella” schools, thus creating today’s dual system.
Fla. Stat. § 1002.41 (Homeschool Statute)
Fla. Stat. § 1002.42 (Private School Statute)
Fla Stat. § 1002.43 (Private Tutor Statute)
This overview is for informational purposes only and does not constitute the giving of legal advice. Page last updated September 2015.