Oregon homeschool law requires that parents submit a letter of intent to homeschool to their Educational Service District (ESD). Many ESDs offer parents an online form and ask them to submit their intent with that instead of with a paper, mailed letter. OCEANetwork recommends that parents not use an ESD’s online forms to submit their letter of intent to homeschool.
There are important reasons why we recommend not using the ESD online systems rather than mailing in your letter of intent to homeschool. Providing information beyond what is legally required can work against efforts to protect and expand homeschool freedoms. ESD online systems require more than legally required. At minimum, the email address, and sometimes phone number or unnecessary information about the students.
Although OCEANetwork has repeatedly asked these ESD’s using online systems to stop asking for more information than legally required, many continue to do so and often take other approaches to persuade parents to use the online systems. For example, an ESD may send families a letter in reply to their written notice of intent asking them to use the online form instead, which is an illegal denial of a legal notification of intent to homeschool. They also often omit mailing contact information from pages about homeschooling on their websites, pointing people to their online forms instead.
It may seem inconsequential to use the online forms the ESD provides, especially considering that information like email addresses are readily shared nowadays. However, when ESDs start to request more information than legally required and homeschool families provide it without question, more pieces of data can and will be added to that list, such as phone, email, age (in addition to birthdate), grade level, school district, last school attended, month/year student was withdrawn from public/private school, etc. The ESD often gives no indication that this information is not required by law. One ESD even sent out yearly status forms for homeschoolers to fill out, which is not legally required.
Similarly, many ESDs word things to imply that the process is a “registration” or “enrollment” into homeschooling rather than the parent simply notifying the ESD of their intent to homeschool. Again, this might sound like semantics. However, we have seen that this can lead to homeschoolers AND legislators beginning to assume these are normal and acceptable pieces of data to collect and wording to use. It is like the old adage “give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.” An important part of preserving homeschool freedoms in Oregon is to maintain clear and accurate understanding of what is legally required and what is not.
Mailing a Letter of Intent to Homeschool in Oregon
Therefore, OCEANetwork recommends only giving what is legally required, and because all ESD online notification forms require more than legally required, we recommend submitting a paper letter. Click here for more information about the letter of intent, including a template and a list of ESD mailing addresses.
Note: We also recommend that you purchase a mailing receipt so that you have a paper record proving that you sent your letter of intent to homeschool and that your ESD received it. There are situations where an ESD has ignored the legal requirement that they provide a written acknowledgement of their receipt of the letter within 90 days, instead insisting that the parent uses their online forms. Having a receipt of delivery in your files provides proof that you completed what was legally required of you.
If your ESD is rejecting your letter of intent or has not sent you a letter of acknowledgement within 90 days of receiving your letter of intent, please contact OCEANetwork.