Friday, July 11, 2008

Special Services in New York

There has been a back and forth battle over special services in New York for homeschooled kiddos over the last few years. This letter was just sent out by the president of LEAH (Loving Education at Home, a large statewide homeschool support group) to its members. It is a huge victory for homeschoolers, and will hopefully help parents to do the very best in meeting the needs of their children with disabilities.

Dear Friends of New York Homeschooling:
I have great pleasure to inform you that on July 7, 2008, New York Governor David Paterson signed A11463, the bill which restores special services to disabled homeschool children. This is the final step in making this bill a law in the state of New York. Disabled homeschool children in New York are once again eligible to receive critically needed special services, on the same basis as other students in New York,
As you may know, these services were abruptly terminated by the State Education Department (SED) earlier this year, changing a policy of more than 17 years of providing these services to homeschoolers. This action was in response to the outcome of a particular NY judicial case (which cited a legal technicality in Federal law). As a result of that change, parents, instead of homeschooling, would have had to enroll their children in a public or private school to receive services critical to learning and development.
However, as a result of calls, letters, emails, and prayers from New Yorkers like you, we were able to persuade the Board of Regents and the SED to see the folly of this new policy and to convince them to support legislation to restore service. More calls, letters, emails, and prayers brought about necessary changes when early legislative proposals were judged to be defective. And even more calls, letters, emails, and prayers generated support within the Legislature which paved the way for this bill to be passed. And I believe it was prayer that caused the final version of the law, which is now signed, sealed, and delivered, to be even slightly better than the version homeschoolers were actively trying to push through the legislature.
In addition to giving praise and thanks to God for his gracious providence in this matter, I suggest that you consider dropping a note of thanks to any government official (SED, Regent, Legislator) that you may have contacted in support of this effort. Listed below are some of the key legislators involved:
1) The following is a suggested message which you may put into your own words:
"Thank you for acting quickly and passing Assembly Bill 11463. This bill will allow homeschool students with disabilities to be eligible for special education services as other nonpublic school students are."
Assemblyman Michael Benedetto (Sponsor)
Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (Co-Sponsor)
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (Co-Sponsor)
Assemblyman Steve Englebright (Co-Sponsor)
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver
Senator George Winner (Sponsor)
Senator Dale Volker (Co-Sponsor)
Senator Joseph Bruno- President pro tempore
2) Please contact both your state senator and assemblyman and give them this message in your own words:
"As a constituent, I want to thank you for voting in favor of Assembly Bill 11463. This bill will allow homeschool students with disabilities to be eligible for special education services as other nonpublic school students are."
To get the name and contact information for your state senator or Assemblyman, go to
Please be in prayer as the State Education Department defines how the new law will be implemented on a practical basis, and sends guidance to the local school districts in regards to details and procedures. The Special Needs Task Force and the Home School Legal Defense Association are already in communication with the SED in regards to a number of practical issues. How these issues are worked out can significantly impact the degree of ease or difficulty of working with this new law.
If you have disabled homeschooled children that need to receive special services under the provisions of this new law, please note that the signing of this bill sets into motion a 30-day window in which you need to make a written request to your school district for such services. The details and the procedures of this are still to be worked out – please go to for the latest information on this. It will be posted as soon as it becomes available.
Thank you very your participation in helping protect and maintain homeschooling rights in New York,
Rich Stauter
President, NYS Loving Education At Home (LEAH)

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