Q: I just got a message from my school district saying I missed my evaluation deadline and they are taking my kids off their homeschool roster. Can they do that? They never sent a reminder this year, so I thought they were skipping evaluations because of social distancing and such.
A: Florida law requires an evaluation once a year
for all home education students. There are no exemptions given for homeschoolers in pandemics and no special laws were put in place for homeschoolers regarding evaluations. And when I talked to a homeschooling lawyer in the Spring, he explained that HSLDA (a subscription group of homeschooling lawyers) did not want any waivers for homeschoolers because if we allow officials to waive our legal requirements once, they may try it again--but in a way that we don't want. We don't want to set a precedent of allowing them to change the law on us without going through the proper channels and procedures.
School districts are not required to notify homeschool parents when their deadline is approaching. Some districts do this as a courtesy, but they aren't required to. And many that have sent notices in the past, stopped when schools shut down and they were working from home and being inundated with requests for information about homeschooling.
Can they remove a student if no evaluation was sent in? Yes, they can; they are supposed to send a warning first--but they have done that in the letter you mention. The district can even start their procedures for truant students if you don't follow the law. So you don't want to mess with skipping an evaluation.
If you are late, your best option is to send the district a note stating that you are working on getting evaluation paperwork to them as quickly as possible. And then get it done and send paperwork to them as quickly as possible.
Many home education liaisons are (or have been) working from home. Many are behind and overwhelmed. A few districts have given automatic extensions to homeschoolers as long as schools weren't meeting in person, but they still want the evaluations turned in. And some districts are catching up and sending warnings to those who have not turned in an evaluation. Just get it done and then all should be well.