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Declaration of Intent

By Mia Anderson

Part 2 of 5 in the series:  Knowledge is Power: Know Your Homeschool Law

This is the second in a series of articles discussing the Washington State laws that affect and regulate homeschooling. The more informed we are about the law and our rights, the more able we are to defend those rights.

While you are reading, remember that all laws are open to interpretation. Please be aware that what follows is one interpretation. We encourage you to take the time to read the RCWs presented here for yourself. They are available in numerical order on the web.

RCW 28A.200 is the chapter of the law that addresses homeschooling, or home-based instruction specifically. The first section of this chapter, RCW 28A.200.010, is titled, "Duties of Parents." It delineates, as you may have guesses, the responsibility of the homeschooling parent not already outlined in the mandatory attendance law. This article will deal with the first duty listed, the declaration of intent.

A declaration of intent is filed for each homeschooled child between the ages of eight and eighteen. It must be mailed or delivered to the superintendent of the local school district (not the alternative education program) by September 15th, or within two weeks of the beginning of any school quarter, trimester, or semester. If a parent is withdrawing a student from public school to homeschool, most school districts will not quibble about the dates when the withdrawal does not fall within one of these school breaks.

The law is very clear about the information this intent form must include. "The statement shall include the name and age of the child, shall specify whether a certified person will be supervising the instruction, and shall be written in a format prescribed by the superintendent of public instruction." Basically, they want to know who is being homeschooled, how old are they, and if we are qualifying to homeschool by using the services of a supervising teacher.

Very important here is the stipulation that the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) prescribes the format of the intent form. The prescribed format can be found on the WHO web site, www.WashHomeschool.org, or in OSPI's "Pink Book." The form asks for the child's name and birth date, has a check box to indicate if a supervising teacher is overseeing instruction, asks for the parent's name and address, and has signature and date lines. That's all.

We are not legally required to provide any information that is not listed above. This includes social security numbers, previous schools attended, school records, names of supervising teachers, homeschool history, how we qualify to homeschool, names of siblings, or release forms of any kind. In addition we are not required to respond to any supplementary requests for information, proof of qualification, agreements as to how we will homeschool, assurances that we will follow the law, additional requirements or conditions for homeschooling, etc. Many declaration forms in this state are not in compliance with the law, and some are down right intimidating. It is up to us to know what information is required, and leave the rest blank.

Remember, the declaration of intent is not a permission form, but a statement of intent, thus the name! This form is the legal document that informs the state that we are in compliance with the compulsory attendance law. It is our declaration to the state that we are responsible for, and in charge of our children's education. Declare!

The third topic is record keeping.

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