Purpose & Legal Requirements
A school district, area vocational technical school, charter school, independent school, private school or non-public school may temporarily excuse a student from compulsory attendance on account of illness or other urgent reasons and provide that student homebound instruction while he or she is excused from school. Regulations require that the term "urgent reasons" be strictly construed not to permit irregular attendance at school. See 22 Pa Code § 11.25 in the Laws and Regulations section.
If a public school entity does provide homebound instruction and seeks to extend the duration of that instruction for a particular student beyond a three-month period, the extension requires the approval of the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). Any excusal from compulsory attendance must be reevaluated, at minimum, every three months. A school district may have a policy that requires more frequent evaluations. School districts must have written policies regarding attendance, admission, excusal and program procedures. These must be distributed yearly to parents. See 22 Pa Code § 11.41.
Nonattendance with Homebound Instruction Provided
The purpose of homebound instruction is to keep students on track academically while the student is temporarily out of school. Homebound instruction is school-supplied one-to-one tutoring for a limited time. These students are counted in both the school membership* and school attendance**. See 22 Pa Code § 11.25(b). A district may provide homebound instruction for the initial three months of excusal without consulting PDE. Following the initial three months, the district must obtain the approval of PDE to extend homebound instruction.
NONATTENDANCE WITHOUT THE PROVISION OF HOMEBOUND INSTRUCTION
If a condition exists which prevents a child from the ability to benefit from study, the student may be entered into the inactive roll with the PDE's approval until such a time as the student may benefit from study. See 24 P.S. § 13-1329 and 22 Pa Code § 11.34.
A school district may excuse a school age child from compulsory school attendance upon recommendation of the school physician and a psychiatrist or public school psychologist, or both, and with the approval of PDE. Prior to seeking excusal and approval, the school district must provide the child's parents with written notice of both the proposed excusal, including the reasons for the excusal, and an opportunity to be heard. See 22 Pa Code § 11.34 and 24 P.S. § 13-1330(2). Children so excused are entered on the inactive roll.***
OTHER IN-HOME INSTRUCTION THAT IS NOT DESIGNATED AS HOMEBOUND INSTRUCTION
There are a number of educational options that sometimes are referred to as "homebound instruction" although they do not fit the legal definition of homebound instruction. The following are NOT categorized as "homebound instruction":
Instruction Conducted in the Home: For special education students for whom an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) team determines that the instruction of the student is to be conducted in the home; students are counted in both the school membership and school attendance; this is not homebound instruction.
Home Education Programs ("homeschooling"): Usually taught at home by a parent (referred to as the home education supervisor); students are not counted in either the membership or school attendance; this is not homebound instruction.
Home Study: for expelled students or students awaiting placement; students are counted in the membership but not the school attendance; this is not homebound instruction
*Membership: student is on the attendance roles, whether or not he or she physically is present on any given day
**Attendance: days when a "member" student is counted as present in school
***Inactive Roll: student is not counted in either membership or attendance