Homeschooling with an IEP

by Kimberley McGee
Homeschooling with an IEP

Parents of kids with special needs, on the Autism spectrum or impacted by learning disabilities have reached out with questions about what they should ask and know before making the decision to homeschool. Can you unenroll a child from public school and still keep an IEP? Can you go to school part time and keep the IEP? They are also realizing that they may need to change an IEP to better fit the needs of their child when they do return to school. Before deciding to homeschool, parents need to be armed with good info.

I reached out to Stephanie Wynn (Master Special Education Advocate). While the process can feel overwhelming, knowing what local resources are available for your specific needs can give you confidence.

“When looking at homeschooling, you need to understand what is homeschooling from a legal standpoint,” Wynn said. “What does that mean when I unenroll my student? What does that look like? What is available in the community?”

What Happens to the IEP?

When homeschooling, parents go from a largely participatory level to a leadership role.

“You are now 100% in charge of your child’s education,” Wynn said. “This is different from what parents have been doing during our recent school closure. For students attending CCSD schools, this last quarter of school at home was a review of previously taught content. It was not homeschooling.”

Once you file the Notice of Intent (NOI) and begin to homeschool your child, you are no longer entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education, or FAPE.  Although; parents may access FAPE by enrolling back into public school and initiating the IEP process, procedural rights. There’s a lot of lingo to know as a homeschooler and if you are confused, reach out to one of the many groups on Facebook or read our rundown of typical terminology you may hear.

“When you unenroll your child from public school and your child has an active IEP, you have just signed off your right to FAPE,” Wynn said. “Legally, CCSD doesn’t have to provide you with IEP services. A lot of parents don’t understand that.”

Know What You Need

Before deciding to homeschool and forgoing the services that an IEP or 504 can provide, make sure that you know what local services are available, how much you can afford and if it is possible to get all the services you need.

Once you unenroll your child from school, which the NOI essentially does, CCSD is not obligated to create a service plan for your child.  Service Plans are written at the discretion of the LEA (Local Educational Agency); in this area that is Clark County School District.  If your child attends a public charter school; you would contact CCSD with a service plan request.

“The big takeaway for most families is that these service plans are optional, not mandatory,” Wynn said. “CCSD does not have to write the service plan. A parent can request it, but there is no onus on the (CCSD) to even contact you. The district has no obligation to students who unenroll and privately place their student/child.”

Parents should understand what they are reliant on from the district and then find a local resource before they unenroll their child and essentially end the entitlement of services through an IEP.

Getting an Evaluation

If you are seeking an initial evaluation, Child Find Department of the CCSD is available. Child Find is an evaluative process available to all families throughout CCSD. Its purpose is to address the federal mandate to locate and evaluate children, ages 3-21, who may have a disability and may be eligible for services.

If your child has an active IEP and a service plan, you may request services to be provided at no cost to you at your home zoned school.  Additionally, your child may attend certain classes or “Specials,” such as P.E., music and art without the need for a service plan.

The information provided does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials presented and available are for general informational purposes only.

Stephanie Wynn, child advocate

Stephanie Wynn has been a professional special education advocate for children in the educational arena and adults in the employment workplace for over 12 years.  Her journey began when her children were identified as disabled and requiring special education at an early age. Through her personal tears and school-based challenges, she began to understand and empathize with many parents that were equally frustrated with lack of results and needing guidance through the Individualized Educational Plan process. With over 10k hours of mentorship, research and special education advocacy she has guided parents throughout the United States in getting their children the services they are entitled to and desperately need through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  Wynn also advocates for adults with disabilities by helping them navigate the workplace in understanding and achieving accommodations through the Americans with Disabilities Act.   She is an active member of Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates; The Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities Partners in Policy-making and the Autism Speaks Volunteer Advocate of Nevada.  Areas of unique specialty include; Autism Spectrum Disorder, Dyslexia, ADHD and Specific Learning Disability.
Inquiries to Stephanie Wynn may be emailed to swynn@youwillchangetheworld.com.
Kimberley McGee
Author: Kimberley McGee

Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist and homeschool mama of twins.

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