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NY: FAQ for the last day of school

Autism Action Network

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The State of New York is about to take the unprecedented step of  denying an education to 26,000 students because Governor Cuomo and a majority of our legislators chose to no longer tolerate the religious beliefs of those students’ families. The State has done very little to educate the schools or families on what they are supposed to do. This is obvious from the wide range of conflicting messages families are getting from the schools.   

     The following FAQ is for parents about to deal with their children’s last days in a New York public school. Our answers to the question below are based on discussions with knowledgeable people who have studied the law, regulations, and related documents. These FAQs are not legal advice. Our goal is to protect your children’s rights to an education, and to avoid any action that may result in your family becoming a target of Child Protective Services.

     The following FAQs only apply to public schools.

Do I have to tell the school I am going to homeschool?

   Yes. If you don’t the child will be recorded as absent which could lead to a truancy action by the school and an educational neglect investigation by CPS. Don’t risk it. You will have to file a letter of intent to home school which requires nothing more than the name and address of the student and the information that you intend to home school.

    Our legislators, the Governor and the state agencies have taken an extremely hostile and punitive approach to this issue. The NYS Office of Child and Family Services (NYSOCFS), along with the NYS Education Department (NYSED) and the Department of Health (NYDOH), are involved in the state implementation of the new law. NYSOCFS is in charge of Child Protective Services, which is responsible for enforcing truancy laws or “educational neglect.” New York State Law does not specify how many missed days of school attendance qualifies as “educational neglect.” That is left to each of the hundreds of school districts to determine. It is not unreasonable to expect some school districts to be extremely aggressive in enforcing truancy laws, so protect yourself and your children.

   The letter should be sent certified return receipt, which requires a signature acknowledging receipt of the letter, and the receipt is mailed back to you. Send your letter of intent to homeschool to your school superintendent, and another copy to the principal of your child’s school, provide back-up copies via email. But hard copies with documented mailing, and receipt of the letter, by the US Postal Service provides you and your family with a greater level of protection.

   In New York City the letter of intent to homeschool should be sent here:

New York City Department of Education

Office of Home Schooling

333 Seventh Avenue, 7th Floor

New York, NY 10001

     Further information about homeschooling in NYC can be found here: