RALEIGH, North Carolina, July 7, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The increasing willingness of parents in North Carolina to homeschool their children has led to the online system for filing a Notice of Intent to Establish a Home School being temporarily overwhelmed. “The system is not currently available due to an overwhelming submission of Notices of Intent (NOI),” the website explained to visitors in the evening hours of July 1.
“It will be back online as soon as possible,” stated the North Carolina Department of Administration, to which the Division of Non-Public Education belongs. “We apologize for any inconvenience as we work to process NOIs as quickly as possible.”
Robert Bortins, CEO of Classical Conversations, an organization active within the homeschooling movement, told North State Journal, “Families are uncertain if the public schools will be able to serve their families needs for school this fall. The pandemic schooling at home gave them the opportunity to see that they could homeschool, and now they are choosing to do it intentionally.”
According to North Carolinians for Home Education (NCHE), there were over 90,000 homeschooling families in the state last school year (2018-2019), which amounts to more than 226,000 students.
By comparison, in early 1988, “there were about 1046 homeschools in North Carolina. When NCHE convinced the NC General Assembly to pass a favorable homeschool law that was ratified on June 20, 1988, the number of homeschools began to grow rapidly.”
In the first year, “the NC homeschool community had experienced a phenomenal 32% increase in numbers to 1,385 homeschools. Since then, the number of homeschools in North Carolina has grown at an annual compound growth rate of more that 16%.”
According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), public schools across the United States are making it harder for parents to withdraw their children from those schools amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As HSLDA’s Thomas J. Schmidt, a lawyer, told Fox News in May, many parents are “shocked” to find they cannot simply take their children out of public schools.
“The most egregious situations I’ve had have been in Florida,” Schmidt said. “But I’ve had numerous parents in a couple of different counties told, ‘we’re not allowed to withdraw students right now’ … They’re trying to hold onto these students.”
“We see this across the country,” the lawyer added. “I’ve had school officials attempt to prevent or dissuade parents from pulling their kids out.”
Schmidt pointed out “two main reasons” for public schools making it harder for parents to withdraw their children from school.
On the one hand, “school officials are fearful of losing too many students to homeschooling,” which causes school districts to also lose money.
“Traditionally, public schools are funded based on their total student enrollment,” the Washington Post explained.
Factoring in various types of funding, Utah spends about $7,000 per student, whereas New York, as the most costly state, spends more than $22,000. For public schools, a lot of money is involved in losing students.
The second reason given by Schmidt for not processing the paperwork necessary to get out of public school “is perhaps a staffing issue, just a lacking staffing issue to process these withdrawals.”
He clarified that it is “not always an issue of trying to stop parents from homeschooling but there is a significant part of that involved.”
In North Carolina, parents have to notify the state of their intent to operate a home school, including the name of the school, and the name of the chief administrator, which generally is a parent.
Categorized by the HSLDA as a state with moderate regulation in terms of homeschooling, families need to maintain attendance records and immunization records for each student. They are also required to have “a regular schedule, excluding reasonable holidays and vacations, during at least nine calendar months of the year,” NCHE summarized.
Students need to take “a nationally standardized test, or other equivalent measurement, that measures achievement in the areas of English grammar, reading, spelling, and math, to every student each year, and maintain the results on file for one year, subject to inspection by a duly authorized representative of the State.”
As reported by the Raleigh News & Observer, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, “delayed his decision Wednesday on whether schools should reopen this fall under minimal social distancing, moderate social distancing or with remote learning only.”
Meanwhile, schools in Wake County, where the capital of Raleigh is located, are determined to reopen “in August at one-third capacity, with students rotating in and out of campus on a weekly basis, unless the state allows looser social distancing requirements.”