November 2021 —
The MLO Minute: By Jacqueline Lembeck, Esq. —
“Homebound instruction” and “instruction in the home” are two often-confused terms in Pennsylvania education law. Both involve the provision of educational services or instruction in the home setting; however, they are very different in terms of scope and the purpose of the instruction. In this regard, “homebound instruction” is a temporary excusal from compulsory attendance along with the provision of some educational instruction, while “instruction in the home” is a special education placement pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) determined by an Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) team based on the setting the student requires to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education.
Importantly, neither “homebound” nor “instruction in the home” is the same as a virtual education program, such as those provided by many districts during the pandemic or through cyber charter schools or virtual academies run by school districts. Also, neither is the same as a “home education” or “home school” program, in which parents or guardians direct the education of their children. A student on homebound instruction or placed in instruction in the home is still a public school student.
Below, both “homebound” and “instruction in the home” are explained in greater detail. If your child is or will be out-of-school for medical reasons or is unable to receive a special education program in a school building, you may want to review these two modes of instruction to determine if your child is receiving the correct services.
Homebound instruction is a temporary excusal from compulsory attendance for a student due to “urgent” reasons, such as mental or physical illness. Typically, when a student is placed on homebound instruction, the school district or charter school provides teacher instruction at home to keep the student on track academically. Homebound instruction is a regular education service that may apply to students with and without disabilities. It can be authorized for up to three months and may be extended with further approval.
Sometimes, the temporary condition that caused a student to receive homebound instruction results in a need for special education or a change in the special education services that a child requires. In those cases, an evaluation or reevaluation may be required as well as review by a 504 or IEP team.
Instruction in the home:
Instruction in the home is a special education placement determined by an IEP team and memorialized in a Notice of Recommended Educational Placement/Prior Written Notice (“NOREP/PWN”) document. School districts and charter schools are required to provide a continuum of placements to meet the needs of students with disabilities, ranging from services provided in the general education classroom through services provided in hospital settings or in home. Some students require instruction in the home to be able to receive a FAPE. Technology associated with providing virtual instruction may be used to provide access to classrooms and peers for students placed in instruction in the home when appropriate. This should be carefully considered.
If you have questions or concerns about whether your child requires homebound instruction or instruction in the home, you may contact us by clicking here.