[Please note: This page is provided by the Catholic Homeschoolers of PA. This is not a diocesan website or page.]

B. HOMESCHOOLING - GENERAL NORMS

        All parents who choose homeschooling for their children are reminded of their most serious responsibilities for providing academic and religious education according to norms established by state law and church law. In particular they are advised of the following:

  1. Parents who choose homeschooling for their children are required by the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to contact the public school district in which they reside. The local public school district is responsible for monitoring and receiving assessments of the children's educational progress. [SPECIAL NOTE: Although this is not the clearest explanation of the Home Education Law in PA, it may be the Diocese's way of letting families know that Catholics may not comply with the law by submitting the required documents to the Diocese, the parish or local Catholic school. All paperwork necessary to comply with the Home Education Law must be submitted to the local public school district of residence.]

  2. When parents choose to withdraw their children from a Catholic school in order to provide homeschooling, they must contact the Catholic school in order to complete the necessary forms. The Catholic school will then forward the children's records to the local public school district in which the children reside. [SPECIAL NOTE: According to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (20 U.S.C. . 1232g.(b)(1), "No funds shall be available under any applicable program to any educational agency or institution which has a policy or practice of permitting the release of education records (or personally identifiable information contained therein other than directory information, as defined in paragraph (5) of subsection (a) of this section) of students without the written consent of their parents to any individual, agency, or organization, other than the following...(B) officials of other schools or school systems in which the student seeks or intends to enroll, upon condition that the student's parents be notified of the transfer, receive a copy of the record if desired, and have an opportunity for a hearing to challenge the content of the record..." According to 22 Pa. Code 12.33 Section 4.1 and 4.1.3, "The school may, without consent of parents or students, release a student's permanent record file, including Categories "A" and "B" defined above, ...To officials of other primary or secondary school systems in which the student intends to enroll, under the condition that the student's parents be notified of the transfer, receive a copy of the record if desired, and have an opportunity to challenge the record's content via a specified judicial-like procedure." The Home Education Law specifies the only documentation or records that a home educated student must have on file (an affidavit, objectives, etc.) with the public school district. If prior school records are sent to your district when you begin a home education program (rather than "enrolling" in the local public school), please consult with your attorney to verify if any privacy rights of your child(ren) have been violated. We are not attorneys and, therefore, cannot give legal opinions or legal advice.]

  3. When parents choose to withdraw their children from a Catholic school in order to provide academic homeschooling, they also must contact the pastor of their parish to register their children in the parish religious education program or to declare their option for religious education homeschooling as specified below.

  4. Catholic school administrations are encouraged to work in partnership with home schooling parents as much as is feasibly possible.

  5. Homeschoolers may not be refused the opportunity to rent school facilities for extracurricular activities if it is the policy of the school/parish to rent those facilities to groups who are not related to that school/parish.

C. RELIGIOUS EDUCATION AND ACADEMIC HOMESCHOOLING COMBINED FOR CHILDREN IN GRADES K-12

        In certain cases parents will choose to provide for the total education of their children at home, rather than a Catholic or public school. In such cases, it is understood that parents will also provide for their children's education in the faith as part of their homeschooling. In these cases, the following are to be observed:

  1. Parents will declare their option for homeschooling to their proper pastor, either in writing or in person. 1

  2. Before the homeschooling program for religious education begins, the parents will meet with the pastor or his representatives (e.g., the parochial vicar, principal, or religious education leader) to discuss the catechetical methods and aids that are to be used.

  3. It is the expectation [not requirement] of the bishop that all catechists including those in homeschooling are certified or actively working toward certification according to diocesan policy. Information concerning certification is available from the Diocesan Department of Religious Education.

  4. The parents will be provided with a copy of the Catechetical Guidelines from the Catholic Schools Office of the Diocese of Erie for the grade level(s) at which the children will be homeschooled for that year. The parents also will be provided with a copy of the appropriate grade level textbook(s) that is being used in the parish school. Should the parents wish to use another textbook, they should provide a copy for review by the pastor or his representative. 2

  5. At the beginning of the school year, the pastor or his representative and the parents shall determine when they will meet to review the progress of the children being homeschooled in the faith.

D. RELIGIOUS EDUCATION HOMESCHOOLING APART FROM ACADEMIC HOMESCHOOLING FOR CHILDREN IN GRADES K-12

        In certain cases the only school available for the academic education of children are those which are operated by the public school district. In other cases parents will choose to provide for the academic education of their children in a public school. In such cases the religious education of their children would normally be provided for in the parish religious education program. However, some parents may choose to provide for their children's education in the faith through homeschooling. In these cases, the following are to be observed:

  1. Parents will declare their option for religious education homeschooling to their proper pastor, either in writing or in person. 3

  2. Before the homeschooling program for religious education begins, the parents will meet with the pastor or his representatives (e.g., the parochial vicar, principal, or religious education leader) to discuss the catechetical methods and aids that are to be used.

  3. It is the expectation [not requirement] of the bishop that all catechists including those in homeschooling are certified or actively working toward certification according to diocesan policy. 4

  4. The parents will be provided with a copy of the Catechetical Guidelines from the Religious Education Office of the Diocese of Erie for the grade level(s) (information concerning certification is available from the Diocesan Department of Religious Education) at which the children will be homeschooled for that year. The parents also will be provided with a copy of the appropriate grade level textbook(s) that is being used in the parish religious education program. Should the parents wish to use another textbook, they should provide a copy for review by the pastor or his representatives[.]

  5. At the beginning of the school year, the pastor or his representative and the parents shall determine when they will meet to review the progress of the children being homeschooled in the faith.

E. HOMESCHOOLING PREPARATION FOR THE SACRAMENTS OF INITIATION AND PENANCE FOR CHILDREN IN GRADES K-12

        The preparation of children for the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist) and Penance is a very important function of catechesis which deserves special attention (General Catechetical Directory, Appendix). "On the one hand, the catechesis that prepares for the sacraments is an eminent kind, and every form of catechesis necessarily leads to the sacraments of faith. On the other hand, authentic practice of the sacraments is bound to have a catechetical aspect. In other words, sacramental life is impoverished and very soon turns into hollow ritualism if it is not based on serious knowledge of the meaning of the sacraments, and catechesis becomes intellectualized if it fails to come alive in sacramental practice" (Catechesi tradendae, n.23).

        In those cases when parents choose to prepare their children for the Sacraments of Initiation and Penance by homeschooling, the following are to be observed:

  1. The reception of the Sacraments of Initiation and Penance is to take place in the proper parish of the children who will receive them.

  2. The first reception of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist by children is to be preceded by sacramental confession (Penance) in accord with the universal law of the church (The Code of Canon Law, c. 914).

  3. In order that they may receive additional information to impart sacramental preparation to their own children through homeschooling, parents should attend those parish meetings or seminars for all parents whose children are preparing for the reception of sacraments at that age level.

  4. In most cases, a child will have received Baptism as an infant. However, when Baptism has been neglected until a later age, parents will inform their pastor as soon as they wish to seek to have the child baptized. The parents will inform their pastor as soon as they wish to seek to have the child baptized. The parents then will meet with the pastor to declare their intention to prepare the child for this sacrament through homeschooling. Likewise, parents who wish to prepare their children for the Sacraments of Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, and Penance by homeschooling are to declare their intention to the pastor prior to beginning that sacramental catechesis.

  5. The pastor will provide the parents with the norms for the Christian Initiation of Children in the Diocese of Erie and the Policies and Guidelines for Preparation for each of the Sacraments in the Diocese of Erie. The pastor or his representative will provide the parents with a textbook for the preparation of children for these sacraments. Should the parents wish to use another textbook, they should provide a copy for review by the pastor or his representative. 6

  6. Since it pertains to both the parents and the pastor to determine when such a child is prepared to receive the sacrament, the parents and the pastor or his representative shall meet at the beginning of the school year to determine when to review the progress made by the child (The Code of Canon Law, cc. 843, 2; 867, 1; 890; 914).

  7. Pastors and all ordained ministers are reminded that they cannot refuse the sacraments to those who ask for them at appropriate times, are properly disposed and are not prohibited from receiving them (The Code of Canon Law, c. 843, 1). Parents are reminded of their duties to see to it that their children are prepared for the reception of the sacraments, taking into account the norms published in this policy for HOMESCHOOLING IN THE DIOCESE OF ERIE. The guidelines should be interpreted in light of existing Diocesan guidelines for reception of sacraments, cf. Introduction paragraph 9.


    1 The rationale for this is to inform the pastor that his obligation to provide for religious education of their children within the parish school or religious education program is instead being fulfilled by the parents. This in turn provides the pastor the opportunity to promote and foster the role of parents in accord with his canonically prescribed duty (The Code of Canon Law. cc. 776; 774, 2).
    2 The rationale for this exchange of information and materials is to properly coordinate these catechetical activities and to make certain that authentic catechesis is being provided as is the Church's fundamental responsibility. The parents must ensure that the Christian education of their children is in accord with the teaching of the Church (The Code of Canon Law, c.226, 2).
    3 The rationale for this is to inform the pastor that his obligation to provide for religious education of their children within the parish school or religious education program is instead being fulfilled by the parents. This in turn provides the pastor the opportunity to promote and foster the role of parents in accord with his canonically prescribed duty (The Code of Canon Law, cc. 776; 774, 2).
    4 In this case, diocesan certification policy applies to parents choosing homeschooling on a long term basis not those who find it necessary as a short term solution to a particular problem.
    5 [not referenced in the guidelines] The rationale for this exchange of information and materials is to properly coordinate these catechetical activities and to make certain that authentic catechesis is being provided as is the Church's fundamental responsibility. The parents must ensure that the Christian education of their children is in accord with the teaching of the Church (The Code of Canon Law, c.226, 2).
    6 The rationale for this exchange of information and materials is to properly coordinate these catechetical activities and to make certain that authentic catechesis is being provided as is the Church's fundamental responsibility. The parents must ensure that the Christian education of their children is in accord with the teaching of the Church (The Code of Canon Law, cc.226, 2).

    February, 1999



    CANON LAW LISTED ABOVE IN THE ORDER IN WHICH IT WAS REFERENCED

    Canon 776--In virtue of his office the pastor is bound to provide for the catechetical formation of adults, young people and children, to which end he is to employ the services of the clerics attached to the parish, members of institutes of consecrated life and of societies of apostolic life, with due regard for the character of each institute, and lay members of the Christian faithful, above all catechists; all of these are not to refuse to furnish their services willingly unless they are legitimately impeded. The pastor is to promote and foster the role of parents in the family catechesis mentioned in can. 774, 2.

    Canon 774, 2--Parents above others are obliged to form their children in the faith and practice of the Christian life by word and example; godparents and those who take the place of parents are bound by an equivalent obligation.

    Canon 226, 2--Because they have given life to their children, parents have a most serious obligation and enjoy the right to educate them; therefore Christian parents are especially to care for the Christian education of their children according to the teaching handed on by the Church. Canon 914--It is the responsibility, in the first place, of parents and those who take the place of parents as well as of the pastor to see that children who have reached the use of reason are correctly prepared and are nourished by the divine food as early as possible, preceded by sacramental confession; it is also for the pastor to be vigilant lest any children come to the Holy Banquet who have not reached the use of reason or whom he judges are not sufficiently disposed.

    Canon 843, 2--Pastors of souls and the rest of the Christian faithful, according to their ecclesial function, have the duty to see that those who seek the sacrament are prepared to receive them by the necessary evangelization and catechetical formation, taking into account the norms published by the competent authority.

    Canon 867, 1--Parents are obliged to see to it that infants are baptized within the first weeks after birth; as soon as possible after the birth or even before it parents are to go to the pastor to request the sacrament for their child and to be properly prepared for it.

    Canon 890--The faithful are obliged to receive this sacrament at the appropriate time; their parents and shepherds of souls, especially pastors, are to see to it that the faithful are properly instructed to receive it and approach the sacrament at the appropriate time.


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    This page was last updated on September 2, 2001.