OCEANetwork is available year-round to support homeschool parents and work to protect their freedoms. Below are answers to common questions about homeschooling special needs in Oregon. If you don’t see your question or need more information, please contact OCEANetwork. We’re happy to help! 

What is required by law for homeschooling special needs in Oregon?

In order to homeschool your special needs child in Oregon you must submit a letter of intent and complete appropriate evaluations. Please review the summary of homeschool law for special needs for details.

Do I need to formally withdraw my student from public school?

There is no legal requirement that you have to notify the school or formally withdraw once you decide to homeschool. We recommend having no contact with the school district after notifying the ESD. Withdrawing your student from the public school can result in being entangled in the school’s internal processes — processes which have no basis in state law.

Do I send my letter of intent to the school or school district as well?

You send your letter of intent to the ESD, not the school or school district.

Do I need to give the ESD acknowledgement letter to my school or school district as proof I am homeschooling?

Some schools / school districts ask for the letter of intent or ESD acknowledgement letter as proof you are homeschooling. This is not required and we recommend not giving more information than is required. 

How do I create a Privately Developed Plan (PDP)?

A Privately Developed Plan (PDP) is an evaluation option for special needs that is specific to Oregon. For qualified disabilities, a PDP can be used instead of an IEP or standardized testing. The PDP is meant to be a simple, flexible, and low-cost way for parents to appropriately evaluate the progress of their special needs student. Learn how to develop a PDP here.

How do I find a service provider for my Privately Developed Plan (PDP)?

Parents who are using a Privately Developed Plan (PDP) to evaluate their special needs homeschool student will choose one or more service providers to help assess their student, craft goals, and document evaluations. Learn how to choose a service provider here.

Do I have to use an IEP or PDP in order to start homeschooling special needs in Oregon?

You do not have to use an IEP or PDP to start homeschooling special needs in Oregon. If you prefer, you can follow the standard rules and complete standardized testing in grades 3, 5, 8, and 10.

Do I need to get an official diagnosis for my child in order to follow the rules for students with disabilities?

If you do not have an official diagnosis for your child’s disability, you may be required to acquire one and send it to the ESD. Although it is not required by law, the Department of Education interprets the OARs in such a way that they allow ESDs to request diagnosis in these situations. We recommend you contact your ESD and ask them what they require as far as proof of diagnosis for a PDP.

Does my letter of intent need to specify a grade level, the fact that my student is special needs, or information about our plan for evaluations?

The letter only needs to contain your name and address, names and birthdates of the children you are homeschooling and the name of the last public school your child attended or the school district in which you reside. For a child with a disability/special needs, you also need to include that the child has a disability. We recommend that you include ONLY that required information. Establishing a PDP can come later, when you are ready.

Is evaluating my child only for 3rd, 5th, 8th, and 10th grade years really enough?

Those are the only grades that you are required by law to send the ESD a statement of whether they are making satisfactory educational progress. Many families choose to do annual plans and evaluations with their private service provider as a helpful tool in their homeschooling efforts.

Is the school / district required to provide IEP services to homeschool students?

Homeschool law does not require school districts to provide services. Read more about that here (under the section titled Individualized Education Plan (IEP)). We recommend becoming a member of HSLDA if your student is special needs. There are ways to get services under a PDP. If you do an IEP, the services available to you are at the discretion of the school district and you should contact them directly.

What if the school denies my request for an IEP to provide my child special education services?

Some children who struggle in school do not qualify for special education services. Other children qualify for services which cannot be provided in conjunction with home education. These are legitimate reasons for denial of special education services to home educated children. There is also some confusion about new federal guidelines for special education services for children in private and home schools. This may cause your local school district to decide that they will not provide services for your child. If this happens, contact the Oregon Department of Education to evaluate the situation.

The rules for homeschooling special needs in Oregon are clear that if the services can be provided in conjunction with home education the local school district should provide them. However, a parent of a home educated child with disabilities is not entitled to a due process hearing to contest a school district’s decision not to provide special education in conjunction with home schooling. If a school district refuses to help you and the Oregon Department of Education supports their decision, you are not entitled to take them to court. Your child is still entitled to a free appropriate public education if he is enrolled in the public school, but if you choose to home educate, you can’t take the district to court to make them provide special education services.

What if it is determined that satisfactory progress has NOT been made?

We recommend that when you are designing your PDP, you set goals that you know your child will reasonably be able to accomplish given the timeframe and their developmental abilities. In addition, remember that the law indicates you do NOT have to meet all the goals that were set in order to make satisfactory educational progress. Make sure your private service provider is friendly to homeschooling and understands the purpose of the PDP as stated here.

Given all that, it is rare that a private service provider will indicate that a student has not made satisfactory educational progress. If that does happen, the child will be required to be re-evaluated in one year. Your PDP goals for that year should be adjusted to compensate for the student’s learning problems.