Like every state in the Union, Florida has a host of laws that affect you as a parent. Some of this laws or Administrative Rules may enhance your parental rights, while others, if not followed could land you in jail or create civil or criminal liabilities if not obeyed. While every Parent in the United States has a Fundamental Right to be a parent, with these rights come important responsibilities.
So how do you know what is the law? We hope this series of articles will guide you to a few important concepts regarding Florida Law.
1. How long can I keep my kids home with me before I have to send them to school?
Florida law, states that all children who are either six years of age, who will be six years old by February 1 of any school year, or who are older than six years of age but who have not attained the age of 16 years, must attend school regularly during the entire school term.
2. Does Florida law specify an age requirement for admission into a public school first grade?
Florida law does not provide a specific age requirement for enrollment to public first grade, the provisions of Florida law related to kindergarten admission and student progression dictate that first grade enrollment be limited to (1) students who turn six years old on or before September 1 who have successfully completed kindergarten; and (2) out-of-state students who turn six years old after September 1 who meet the age requirement for public kindergarten admission from the transferring state, and who have successfully completed kindergarten.
3. Can we home school our Children?
Yes. When you decide to home school a child in Florida, you must notify the school district superintendent of your intentions in writing. The letter must include names, addresses, and birth dates of the children who will be enrolled in home education and must be filed within 30 days of beginning the homeschooling process. The same process must be completed if you decide to stop homeschooling your children, and the letter again must be filed within 30 days of the termination of the home education program. You will also be required to have an annual educational evaluation of your child or children, which is to be performed by a licensed teacher within the State of Florida. If you are teaching elementary grades, an elementary teacher will be needed for the evaluation; and if you are teaching secondary grades, you will need to have the evaluation performed by a secondary teacher.
4. Is a student over age 16 allowed to quit school without parent permission
No. When a student reaches 16 years of age he/she is no longer required to attend school if he/she files the required formal declaration of intent to terminate school enrollment with the school district and the declaration is signed by the parent. The declaration must acknowledge that leaving school will likely reduce the student’s earning potential. The school district is required to notify the child’s parent or legal guardian that the student has filed a declaration of intent to leave school.
5. I want my twins to be in the same class. Do I have a right to demand that?
Florida passed a Twins Law in 2008, granting parents of multiples the right to a say in the classroom placement of their children. The law became effective in July 2008. Parents are allowed to choose whether their twins, triplets or more will be together in the same class, or separated into different classrooms. Under the legislation, parents need to inform the school of their decision no later than 5 days before the first day of school, or five days after the first day of attendance during the school year if students are enrolled after the school year commences. Schools are still allowed to make recommendations to parents, but will honor parental requests. Principals are still allowed to determine appropriate placement for siblings if the situation is deemed disruptive after the first grading period, but parents are allowed to appeal the decision with the school district.
6. What information is required in order to enroll a student in a Florida public school?
The following information is required to enroll a student in a Florida school:
• Proof of age. A certified birth certificate for US citizens may be requested online at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/howto/w2w/w2welcom.htm. If a birth certificate is not available refer to 1003.21, FS, for other acceptable documentation.
• A Florida Certificate of Immunization, Form 680 (blue card), completed by a Florida physician or by a Florida county health department. Parents should obtain a copy of their child’s complete immunization history before leaving their current residence, as this form is not available to the general public. Information on Florida school immunization requirements is available athttp://www.doh.state.fl.us/Family/school/parent/parent_info.html.
• Evidence of a medical exam completed no less than 12 months prior to the child’s school entry date. As long as the medical exam meets this 12-month requirement, parents may submit this information on the School-Entry Health Exam Form (DH 3040) or provide a copy of the exam obtained from their current physician before moving to Florida. This form and the accompanying guide are available online athttp://www.doh.state.fl.us/chdcollier/pdf/School_Entry_Exam_06_02.pdf (PDF).
• Official documentation that the parent(s) or guardian(s) is a legal resident(s) of the school district attendance area.
7. My Child is being bullied in School? What can I do?
The Florida Department of Education has given this advice: “Avoid blaming your child for the harassment. Think twice before giving advice – your child may have already tried the strategies you are going to suggest. Get as much information as you can. Talk with your child’s teacher, principal, or counselor and ask them to help your child be safe. Their intervention may include consequences for the bully, increased supervision, and helping your child make more friends if he or she is isolated. Ask your child what she has already tried to resolve the problem. Praise her for all the things she has tried. Give him permission to stop doing the things that haven’t worked to stop the bullying. Encourage him to keep telling you and other adults. Help him to think about what has worked – or what might work. If your child is isolated, help her make connections through activities, hobbies, or clubs.” You can also call the State Office of Safe Schools at 850-245-0416. Go to
http://www.fldoe.org/safeschools/bullying.asp#brfp for more information.
8. Do my kids really have to wear bike helmets?
Yes. A bicycle rider or passenger who is under 16 years of age must wear a bicycle helmet that is properly fitted and is fastened securely upon the passenger’s head by a strap, and that meets the standards of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI Z 90.4 Bicycle Helmet Standards), the standards of the Snell Memorial Foundation (1984 Standard for Protective Headgear for Use in Bicycling), or any other nationally recognized standards for bicycle helmets adopted by the department. As used in this subsection, the term “passenger” includes a child who is riding in a trailer or semi-trailer attached to a bicycle.