2001 – Homeschooling Policies of Ontario School Boards

Historical Archives: These policies are no longer current but are provided for your information, as an historical record of what the situation used to be before Policy/Program Memorandum No.131.

(Note: Policies are just that, policies. They are not law. They do not appear in the Education Act.)

The following [were] policies of Ontario School Boards as they relate to homeschooling. These were gathered in the Spring of 2001.

Note: As an addendum to this page, OFTP has drafted a response letter for home educators to use in reply to school board demands for those who wish not to comply or to comply enough to satisfy the "compelling interest of the state" in your child's education.

The Bluewater District School Board (2000-2001)

This is edited from a detailed report by a parent (on file)

The Bluewater District School Board has contacted a few homeschooling parents in recent years.  Most of the phone calls are to families who have pulled their children out of the school system (either public or private) or to homeschooling families who have registered their children. A few months later, the families usually receive a letter, a Homeschooling Notification of Intent Form, and the Administrative Procedure.

They offer the board’s support and assistance in evaluating the child's growth and development throughout the school year.  The letter states that parents are to file an annual letter of intent along with a program plan.  The Notification of Intent is to be completed with address, parents' ’names and telephone numbers.  The names, gender, and date of birth for all children are to be listed as well.

The Administrative Procedure states that the Board has the responsibility to determine that satisfactory instruction is occurring.  Upon receipt of written notification and plan, student (s) will be excused from school and the letter will be filed in the Ontario Student Record. The school will acknowledge the request and set out a process for an annual evaluation of student progress.

Parents have a choice whether to submit a written plan with samples from the child's portfolio or to meet with school staff or area resource teacher and allow a direct evaluation of student progress through either discussions about the  program outline or a portfolio of the student's work discussed with the student.  The board sets out criteria for a child'’s work samples in folders for Language Arts, Science and Technology, Arts and Math. A written summary of the "Proof of Student Progress”," signed by the parent, will be placed in the student's OSR.

If the principal determines that instruction is unsatisfactory he will advise the parent by registered mail and include specific areas of concern and suggestions for improvement.  The family will have an opportunity discuss this with the Superintendent of Operations.  If the unsatisfactory education is continued beyond a reasonable time,  the Superintendent of Operations will give written notice by registered mail that the Provincial Attendance Counsellor will be notified.  It will also note that the child is no longer excused from attendance.  The parents will have 5 days to appeal the decision in writing.  If there is no appeal, the report will be sent to the Provincial School Attendance Counsellor. If there is an appeal,  the superintendent will report unsatisfactory instruction to the Provincial Attendance Counsellor following a consultation with the director, principal and attendance counsellor.  The report will also include a copy of the parents' appeal.

The parent who submitted this information wrote that, "All of the families, to the best of my knowledge, have told the board that they have chosen a private, legal educational alternative and have stated that completing of their forms would not be legally required or necessary."

Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic Separate School Board (2000)

copy on file

The Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic Separate School Board’s policy is detailed, and includes a sixteen page research paper which contains some background information, mentions Johnson and Pearce, relevant sections of the Education Act,  and a checklist of procedures and responsibilities of parents, principals and supervisory officers.  It concludes with a “"final remark”," which is centred on a separate page, outlined and in bold print:  "“The duty to attend school is found both within Regulation, the Education Act and a significant body of legal decisions.  If parents or students do not follow the process to seek approval for Home Schooling then the Family of Schools Superintendent should be notified to deal with the breach of the Education Act."”

Parents receive a brochure which explains the procedures.  This brochure also ends with a bolded note:  “"Where satisfactory instruction has not been demonstrated and where all else fails, the Board will consider the possibility of proceeding pursuant to subsection 30(1) or 30(5) of the Education Act.”"

The board asks for written notification which includes names, dates of births, etc. and “"a plan demonstrating the education direction proposed by the parent”."  This plan includes student outcomes, methods of instruction , evaluation, assessment and recording of information in all subject areas.  The “"homeschooling agreement”" will be renewed annually based on evaluation of work and one to three home visits per year.  They also include a four page document entitled “"Evaluation Criteria for Satisfactory Instruction."”  This is in the form of a report card; it notes each criterion, then has a space for a rating (from 1 -- little or no evidence, to 4 -- high evidence) and comments.  The criteria include environment (space, desk, etc.) student’'s enthusiasm for learning, planning, instructional methodology, balanced programme (language, math, science and technology, social studies, arts, religion), assessment, evaluation, record keeping, materials and resources (“appropriate provincial guidelines”).  This form, it says, has been adapted from the Grey County and York Region Boards of Education.

Grand Erie District School Board (Sept 1998)

Policy on file--REVISED

"“Until parent/guardian has informed the Superintendent of Schools of their intent to home school their child(ren), the child(ren) is/are considered absent and truant.”"

The principal of the school which the child would "“normally"” attend is responsible for supervising the programme.  Supervision is provided through (1) home visits and/or meetings and (2) completion of a “"Satisfactory Instruction Audit”" twice a year.  The audit is in the form of a checklist (check yes or no).  They expect to see a written plan indicating programme organization, scheduling and evaluation.  Texts and appropriate learning materials should be available. Instruction should occur for approximately the instructional time provided in schools.  The teaching environment should contain the physical necessities for providing satisfactory instruction (heat, light, ventilation, furniture, sanitary conditions, etc.).  Principals are to assess the educational growth of the pupil by examining written work and  having discussions with the child. “Scores on "Standard Achievement Tests" in Language and Mathematics compared with the norms of pupils of similar age and background.  If the principal is satisfied, home schooling may continue. If he isn'’t satisfied, a supervisory officer will visit. This officer may recommend that the home schooling continue, that the programme is to be modified, or that the pupil is no longer excused, and the family will be referred to the School Attendance Counsellor.

In response to the original posting of this summary, a parent wrote as follows:

“"We have been 'reporting' to the Grand Erie District School Board for about three years now.  We send in our annual notification that we are continuing home education; they send back their policy information and checklist.  Then, I send back a letter [OFTP] wrote on my behalf several years ago and I never hear from them again until June when they write another letter.”"

Hamilton-Wentworth School Board

In order to be “"excused from compulsory school attendance”," parents report their intention to the principal and appropriate supervisory officer with a copy to the supervisor of Social Work Services. Parents are “"requested"” to provide a written plan outlining the timetable, hours of instruction, lists of texts, list of learning materials, area where most instruction is to take place, learning outcomes and “"availability" of samples of work.

They also include a checklist  for an annual “"Home Schooling Review Meeting”."  The committee must check and make objective comments on the following: work samples (writing, math, science, social studies, arts) from fall, winter and spring, child'’s work space,  field trips, opportunities for technology and interaction with peers.  There are spaces for “"other information provided by parents, suggestions, comments and plans for the next school year."”  At the end of this form are spaces to check off whether or not satisfactory instruction has taken place.

They provide a one page list of resources for families, which does not include the OFTP website.

Greater Essex County District School Board

The board expects parents to notify the local school in writing of their intention to provide home instruction and to provide a written plan telling what will be taught, what resources will be used, how students will be evaluated and what record of progress will be maintained. Instruction must be consistent with the  MET curriculum. Parents meet with the school principal during the school year to discuss progress and achievement.  Board staff will  be given “"the opportunity to formally evaluate"” achievement.

This evaluation may take the form of standardized testing and examination of student work. If parents refuse the "“invitation to participate”," the principal will send a registered letter to the parents (copied to the superintendent). If achievement concerns exist after an evaluation, parents must submit a plan to address concerns. If no plan is submitted, or if problems continue, the superintendent will recommend that the student returns to school. If there is disagreement, the superintendent will notify MET. If a MET assessment can’'t resolve disagreement, the “"case”" will be referred to the Provincial Attendance Counsellor.

A parent in the area reports that "This is the policy they send out. We advise our homeschoolers to ignore it. If they don't respond to it, they don't hear back from the board.”"

Grand Erie District School Board (Sept 1998)

Policy on file

"“Until parent/guardian has informed the Superintendent of Schools of their intent to home school their child(ren), the child(ren) is/are considered absent and truant.”"

The principal of the school which the child would "“normally"” attend is responsible for supervising the programme.  Supervision is provided through (1) home visits and/or meetings and (2) completion of a “"Satisfactory Instruction Audit"” twice a year.  This audit is in the form of a checklist (check yes or no).  They expect  to see a written plan indicating programme organization, scheduling and evaluation.  Texts and appropriate learning materials should be available.  Instruction should occur for approximately the instructional time provided in schools.  The teaching environment should contain the physical necessities for providing satisfactory instruction (heat, light, ventilation, furniture, sanitary conditions, etc.). Principals are to assess the educational growth of the pupil by examining written work and  having discussions with the child. “Scores on Standard Achievement Tests in Language and Mathematics compared with the norms of pupils of similar age and background.  If the principal is satisfied, home schooling may continue. If the principal isn'’t satisfied, a supervisory officer will visit.  This officer may recommend that the home schooling continue, that the programme is to be modified, or that the pupil is no longer excused, and the family will be referred to the School Attendance Counsellor.

Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board (Jan 2001)

Policy on file

The Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board’s “"notification to homeschool"” form has two options.  If parents choose option one (assuming sole and full responsibility), the board will contact them in June to learn of their plans for the next school year.  If parents choose option two (assuming sole and full responsibility, but requesting the board act as a resource), they may borrow videos and receive curriculum outlines from the board.  If they enrol as part time students they may request additional services.

York Region District School Board (Jan 2001)

policy on file

The York District School Board provides a brochure to parents called “"Satisfactory Instruction at Home (Procedure NP 357.01): Homeschooling Guidelines for Parents”."

Parents are asked to notify the local school principal and to submit a written plan within ten school days of removing their children from school or receiving the brochure.  The plan should include aims and objectives, instructional methods, evaluation criteria and locations which will be used for teaching and learning. They don'’t mention home visits, meetings or evaluations beyond the initial meeting to review the plan.  The principal is to contact the family each June to check on their plan for the next school year.

Thanks to the efforts of two families, we have a copy of two York Region policies, one dated January 2001, and another from May 1996. There have been several changes and additions.  Instructions to principals are now more explicit and directive.  Noteworthy is a direction to warn parents to consider and discuss “"possible problems of reintegration"” if they return to the school system.  They'’re also to discuss ways the Board could be a resource (they mention only providing access to curriculum documents). Finally, there’'s a paragraph at the end of the 2001 policy as follows:  "“If the parents are not willing to enter the Board’'s process for determining Satisfactory Instruction at Home, the Principal shall inform the Superintendent of Schools who shall notify the Supervisor of Attendance and Counselling Services, who will take appropriate action."”