Florida compulsory school attendance age
Children must attend school or comply with the homeschool laws starting in the school year that they turn 6 on or before February 1. They must remain in school until they turn 16 or until they graduate from high school.
HSLDA believes that a parent-issued diploma and transcript should be sufficient to demonstrate that a child has completed a secondary education. However, even if your child is beyond compulsory school attendance age, there may be situations where you would want to continue to follow the requirements of a home education option recognized under Florida law until your child graduates from high school (filing a home education notice, keeping attendance and other records, etc.). These records may be requested in some situations, such as obtaining a driver’s license if your child is a minor, enlisting in the military, applying to colleges, or demonstrating eligibility for Social Security benefits. If you are a member of HSLDA and would like additional details, please contact us.
Withdrawing your child from his or her current school
If you want to start homeschooling during the school year and your child is currently enrolled in a public or private school, HSLDA recommends that you formally withdraw your child from that school. If you are going to start homeschooling after the school year is over, and your child is considered enrolled for the following year, we recommend that you withdraw your child before the next school year begins, so that the school does not mark your child as absent or truant.
We invite you to become a member of HSLDA to receive specific advice about withdrawing your child from school and starting to homeschool. Local schools may have specific forms or withdrawal procedures. HSLDA members are eligible to receive individualized advice about whether complying with those procedures is advisable or required. HSLDA members can also use the sample letter of withdrawal for Florida available in Member Resources to correspond with school officials.
We generally recommend that any correspondence with authorities be sent by “Certified Mail—Return Receipt Requested.” Keep copies of the withdrawal letter and any other paperwork or correspondence, and any green postal receipts, for your personal records.
Note: If your child has never attended a public or private school, this section does not apply.
Complying with Florida’s homeschool law
In Florida, there are three options under which you can legally homeschool. After choosing the option you wish to use, follow the steps listed below it.
Homeschooling under the homeschool statute:
1. File a notice of intent to homeschool.
Within 30 days of beginning your homeschool program, you must file a notice of intent to establish a home education program with the county superintendent. You do not need to file this every year. This notice must include the full legal names, addresses, and birth dates of your homeschool students. HSLDA provides a form on our website that our members may use for their notice of intent.
State law requires the superintendent to accept the notice and immediately register the home education program. The school district cannot require any additional information unless the student decides to participate in a public school program or service. No grade level may be assigned and a social security number (or other personal information of the student) cannot be included in any state or district database unless the student decides to participate in that public school program or service.
2. Maintain a portfolio.
Throughout the year, you must keep a portfolio of records and materials. The portfolio must contain: 1) a log of educational activities made contemporaneously with the instruction, with a list of the titles of any reading materials used, and 2) samples of writings, worksheets, workbooks, creative materials, etc., used or developed by the student. You must keep this portfolio for two years after it is completed. The district school superintendent or his or her agent can, but is not required to, review your portfolio only after 15 days’ written notice.
3. Evaluate your student annually.
Each student must be evaluated by one of the following options every year:
- Have educational progress evaluated by a teacher holding a valid regular Florida teaching certificate and selected by the parent—the evaluation must include review of a portfolio and discussion with the student;
- Take any nationally normed student achievement test administered by a certified teacher;
- 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;
- Be evaluated by a Florida licensed psychologist or school psychologist; or
- Be “evaluated with any other valid measurement tool as mutually agreed upon.”
4. File an affidavit of termination.
If you decide to stop homeschooling, or move out of the county, you should submit an affidavit of termination to the county superintendent of schools within 30 days of ending your homeschool program. If you begin homeschooling again, or begin homeschooling in a new county, you should submit a new affidavit of intent.
Homeschooling under a private school “umbrella” program:
You can enroll your child in a private school that is registered with the Florida Department of Education and that will oversee your homeschool program. Such schools are often known as “umbrella” or “cover” schools because your homeschool program is supervised by them rather than overseen by local school officials.
It is your responsibility as the parent to ensure that the school in which you enroll your student is in compliance with all private school requirements mandated by the state of Florida. You can see the Florida Private School Directory on the Florida Department of Education website.
Homeschooling with a private tutor:
1. Select a private tutor to teach your child.
2. Keep records.
3. Provide the required days of instruction.
The importance of recordkeeping
You can find Florida’s specific recordkeeping requirements, if any, above. Regardless of what state you live in, HSLDA recommends that you keep detailed records of your homeschool program. These records may be helpful if you face an investigation regarding your homeschooling or your student needs to furnish proof of education.
These records should include attendance records, information on the textbooks and workbooks your student used, samples of your student’s schoolwork, correspondence with school officials, portfolios and test results, and any other documents showing that your child is receiving an appropriate education in compliance with the law. You should maintain these records for at least two years. You should keep your student’s high school records and proof of compliance with the home education laws during the high school years (including any type of home education notice that you file with state or local officials) on file forever. HSLDA’s high school webpage has additional information about homeschool recordkeeping.