AUSTIN — Amid thousands of Texas families withdrawing their kids from government-run schools during government-ordered shutdowns, some public schools are reportedly attempting to hinder parents’ right to decide the best educational path for their children.

According to a recent report by the Texas Home School Coalition, a nonprofit that promotes education freedom and parental rights in the state, public schools have recently been obstructing or even trying to stop parents from withdrawing their children in order to home-school.

“On July 7, the state released guidelines for what the 2020-2021 public school year would look like with COVID-19 precautions in place. As a result, many parents withdrew their children to homeschool,” wrote the organization, adding that in July, the number of withdrawals they helped process went up 1,500 percent.

“As withdrawals increased, so did the reports of schools not following the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) long-standing policy on how public school districts are to handle families withdrawing to homeschool,” they continued, explaining that the withdrawal policy is fairly simple: notify the school of your withdrawal via email or letter, keep your child home the day after, and if the school asks for further information, send them an assurance email.

“Some schools required new homeschool parents to jump through hoops not required by the TEA or even told families that they could not withdraw at all from public school due to COVID-19,” the organization wrote.

THSC said they sent a notice in late August to 9,500 school and district administrators in every public school and district across the state, reminding them to follow the TEA withdrawal policy.

“Schools cannot legally keep students from withdrawing, force families to withdraw in person rather than by letter or email, or require that unnecessary forms be signed by families who have already properly withdrawn,” THSC stated.

Public schools across Texas are watching thousands of families leave their system to pursue different education options, such as private schools, charter schools, or home-schooling. Just in Central Texas, the Austin Independent School District has lost 5,000 students since the end of last year, and suburb districts such as Pflugerville and Round Rock have lost 1,300 and 2,400 students, respectively.

If you or someone you know is experiencing problems withdrawing a student from public school, please contact jasmussen@texasscorecard.com

Jacob Asmussen

Jacob Asmussen is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard. He attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and in 2017 earned a double major in public relations and piano performance.

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