Duneland Assistant Superintendent Monte Moffett tells a funny story about
So Moffett gets a call from an angry parent complaining about a kid in his
neighborhood who’s undercutting his own son’s grass-mowing business because
the kid’s going from home to home while his son is in school.
Turns out, his son’s competitor is being homeschooled and he’s got the time
to be entrepreneurial.
Couple of points to make about this story. First—as the Indiana Department
of Education (DOE) notes on its website—homeschooled children must attend
180 days of school per year but the parents themselves decide which days to
teach and how many hours to teach.
Second, the Duneland School Corporation (DSC) has no supervisory or
administrative role to play with respect to homeschooled children who reside
in the district, with one exception only. Under Indiana Code, the local
superintendent may ask to review the daily attendance record which
homeschooling parents are required to maintain for their children.
Does DSC Superintendent Dirk Baer routinely inspect such records, as he’s
legally entitled to do?
Baer does not, Moffett said, except in the cases of homeschooled children
who are newly enrolling in DSC.
In short, Moffett said, “We’re not the homeschooling police. That’s not our
duty. Our duty as a public school system is to our students. When you’re
homeschooled, you’re not one of our students. We’re concerned about the
children who are enrolled in the Duneland Schools.”
In fact, Moffett is unable to say with anything like certainty how many
children in Duneland are being homeschooled, just as DOE is unable to say
how many in the state are.
That’s because homeschooling parents are not required to report the
fact—either to the local public school corporation or to the state—that they
are homeschooling, DOE Communications Director Stephanie Sample told
the Chesterton Tribune. Reporting is entirely voluntary, Sample said.
The 2011 Graduation Rate Mobility Report, however, does provide this piece
of information: of the 89,324 students originally enrolled statewide in the
Class of 2011, 5,020 of them would eventually withdraw from high school to
be homeschooled. That figure, 5,020, represents 35.1 percent of the total
number of students from the Class of 2011 who would withdraw before
No graduation rate mobility report was available from DOE for any
high-school class previous to that of 2011. No comparable report exists at
all for students withdrawn from public school prior to ninth grade. And DOE
did not provide the Tribune with the number of homeschooled children
voluntarily reported to DOE.
According to the same mobility report, 21 students withdrew from CHS’s Class
of 2011 to be homeschooled, or 30.4 percent of the total number—69—who
withdrew before graduation.
CHS’s 30.4-percent homeschool-withdrawal rate is far higher than the 8.1
percent reported by Portage High School, where 11 of the 136 students who
withdrew from the Class of 2011 did so to be homeschooled; and higher as
well than the 10.0 percent reported by Valparaiso High School, where five of
the 50 students who withdrew did so to be homeschooled.
Over the last 10 years, Moffett said, a total of 80 students has withdrawn
from CHS to be homeschooled, based on the records of stated-mandated exit
Information on the number of students withdrawn from other schools in DSC is
harder to come by, as exit interviews are not required for withdrawals in
grades K-8. But Chesterton Middle School Principal Craig Stafford reported
that, since academic year 2001-02, a total of 20 students has been withdrawn
from CMS to be homeschooled, with the majority—15—since academic year
And Bailly Elementary School Principal Michael Grubb reported that, since
academic year 2007-08, a total of seven students has been withdrawn from BES
to be homeschooled. Of those seven, three are children in the same family
and one is being homeschooled for medical reasons.
How many children in Duneland were never enrolled in DSC in the first place,
because their parents began homeschooling them at age 7?
There’s “no way of knowing,” Moffett said. “We haven’t a clue.” Under
Indiana Code, parents who begin homeschooling their children at the
compulsory age of 7 are required to “certify” that fact to the local public
school superintendent, but only at the superintendent’s request. And
practically speaking, if the local public school has no record of the child
to begin with, a superintendent would have no basis on which to seek that
certification even if he or she were inclined to do so.
It occasionally happens, Moffett noted, that homeschooling parents complain
about DSC’s policy of not permitting their children to participate in
extra-curricular activities or to enroll in select courses, as Indiana Code
clearly allows—but does not require—public schools to do.
In DSC’s case, Moffett said, the decision has been made that public-school
offerings will be made available only to public-school children. “We can
only provide services to those children enrolled in the Duneland Schools. We
don’t have the resources to do otherwise.”
Duneland’s state funding is based on the number of full-time sudents
enrolled in the system.
It also occasionally happens that a Chesterton Police officer on patrol
during regular school hours will see a school-aged child out and about. In
that case the officer typically questions the student to determine whether
he is truant, School Resource Officer Sgt. Randy Komisarcik told the
If the child tells the officer that he is being homeschooled, the officer
will then contact the child’s parents to confirm his status.
“It doesn’t happen all the time, not every day, but it does happen,”