Were you one of the lucky recipients of a letter from the NC Division of Non-Public Education inviting you to a voluntary homeschool records review? If it doesn’t quite feel like winning the lottery, it may be because … well, it’s nothing like winning the lottery. It’s more akin to being selected for jury duty, but not just any neighbor can answer our questions about this summons.
I have compiled an FAQ about voluntary records review letters from a homeschooler’s perspective, I hope this information takes the unknown out of the equation and puts your mind at ease.
Did someone report me to DNPE or CPS?
The voluntary records review summons you received in the mail has nothing to do with any complaints submitted to the state or other compulsory attendance officials. That process looks completely different. So if you ever are reported (highly unlikely), this is not how your opportunity for a response would look.
So why did I get a homeschool records review letter?
According to DNPE’s Homeschool Guide Book: “Schools are randomly selected for the invitation.” See? Aren’t you lucky? Like the lottery and you’re NOI is your ticket to play. But this is not as much fun. (Oh, and it’s nothing like Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery, I promise.)
Is it legal for the state to ask for these records?
Yes, absolutely. According to General Statutes 115C-549 and 115C-557 which specify which records must be kept at the “school’s principal office” and available for inspection by DNPE representatives. (The school’s principal office, by the way, is your home.)
The letter says I have been selected to voluntarily attend. Does it look bad if I don’t go?
Well, opinions differ on that. But, generally speaking, no. It does not reflect on your homeschool nor invite further scrutiny on your records whether you attend or don’t. Many people have strong feelings one way or the other about how it looks when the community at large does or doesn’t participate in these meetings.
So should I go?
That’s totally up to you. It is a great opportunity to meet someone from the DNPE staff and ask any questions you may have! Most are at a library, so you can make it a field trip with the kiddos, too.
If I do attend the meeting, what should I expect?
The DNPE representative will simply look at your records (attendance from current and past year, most recent standardized test results which should be no more than 1 year old) to see if you are keeping them as required by the homeschool statutes. Simply keeping them. The representative is NOT going to count the number of school days on the attendance record, NOR are they going to judge the scores of the standardized tests.
It should go something like this:
Do you have the records? Yes, you do. Do you have any questions for us? No? Ok, thank you for your time.
If I don’t attend the meeting, I have to return the enclosed update form, correct?
Technically, no, unless you need to close your homeschool. But even then you can do any closing or records updating online in your DNPE portal. The law specifies when we are to open our homeschools, and when we are to close them, and not much about sending updated records to the state in between. (Personally, I don’t see any harm in updating them, but others have different views on that.) I understand, though, that the staff does appreciate a call to the number specified in the letter notifying them you won’t be attending a meeting. This simply lets them know that, at the very least, your mailing address is up-to-date, which IS required by law to keep current!
I hope this information takes the panic out of opening that letter! For as long as I’ve homeschooled in North Carolina, our community has had a healthy relationship with the staff at the Division of Non-Public Education. There is certainly nothing to fear about a records review and now that you know more, you can make a more relaxed decision about your participation.
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