Israel Ministry of Education Official Homeschooling Procedures – April 2009

Translator’s note: 

Below is an unofficial translation of the official procedures for homeschooling, as published by the Israeli Ministry of Education. This is provided on a volunteer basis for the assistance of English-speaking homeschoolers. It has no legal force; only the Hebrew original should be considered authoritative. I am not a professional educator and am not savvy about the various internal titles and terminology used by the Israeli Education Ministry; I have done my best to convey the intent of the document. I apologize for any errors in translation and would be happy to correct them if called to my attention.

Be aware that the original Hebrew text is often ambiguous, unclear or just poorly worded. I have retained some of the original awkwardness but cleaned up other cases, depending on what seemed to make sense. Just because you can’t understand something doesn’t mean it’s the fault of the translation.

It’s an open secret that the Ministry and its officials are not pedantic about following the procedures in this document. Sometimes that’s to the benefit of homeschoolers, sometimes to our disadvantage.

Standard I-am-not-a-lawyer disclaimer applies to the rest of this note:

We often colloquially refer to this document as the homeschooling regulations. To be pedantic, they aren’t really regulations. They’re procedures. The difference matters.

Regulations are rules a government agency imposes on businesses, the dos and don’ts they have to follow or be punished. Procedures are internal to the agency; they spell out how the agency goes about implementing the law. Their primary audience is the bureaucrats. They’re not legally binding on anyone outside the agency.

The Education Ministry homeschooling procedures answer the question, “If someone wants to homeschool a child, what is the process of handling the request?” What does the ministry ask of the parents, which officials are responsible for the assessment process, what are the criteria for approval, what is the appeals process, etc.

The point is that the guidelines are binding on the ministry and its officials, not on the parents. If you fail to follow the procedures, they may try to make things difficult for you, but you haven’t broken any laws.

If they fail to follow the procedures, however, you can complain, stand up for your rights, file an appeal. If you challenge them and it comes to it, they’ll even have to defend the validity of the procedures in court. They aren’t automatically legitimate. (For example, it’s highly questionable that they have a legal right to demand to enter your home, but the procedures call for it anyway.)

It’s important to know the procedures so you know what rights the MoE acknowledges you have and what recourse you have under their system. If they reject you without a legitimate reason, you need to know how to make that case. But just because they’ve followed their own rules doesn’t mean they’re in the right. Don’t let them intimidate you.

Jason Elbaum
jason.elbaum+hs@gmail.com

Translation of Hebrew document. Original URL:

http://cms.education.gov.il/educationcms/applications/mankal/etsmedorim/3/3-1/horaotkeva/k-2009-8a-3-1-37.htm

Director General’s Circulars – Ministry of Education

3. Organization and Administration
3.1 Organization of Pedagogical Work
3.1-37 Homeschooling – Procedures

1. Overview

1.1 Summary

This section details the procedures for the approval of a parental homeschooling application, the conditions for evaluating the application and granting the approval, the means of communication with the parents and the children, and the methods of supervision over implementation of the procedures.

1.2 Purpose of publication

A. Validity: Starting from 1 April 2009

B. Applicability: All pupils in the official school system and the recognized unofficial school system

C. Status: Replacement

D. Previous circulars on the same topic: “ Section 3.1-26 of permanent circular 2006/8(a), “Homeschooling – Procedures ” – Cancelled.

E. Previous circulars on related topics:

1.3 Distribution: district directors, principals of schools and preschools, employees of local authority education departments, inspectors general, advisors, psychologists and truant officers.

1.4 The responsible authority

A. Name of unit: The Pedagogical Administration

B. Role holder: The supervisor in charge of homeschooling

C. Telephone number: 02-5603221

D. E-mail address: yehuditd@education.gov.il

1.5 Appendices

Appendix A: Application for exemption from the Mandatory Education Law for the purpose of education through homeschooling

Appendix B: Guidelines for the presentation of programs for approval of homeschooling

2. General

The position of the Israeli education system is that the proper place of pupils of mandatory education age is within educational institutions which operate in accordance with the provisions of the Mandatory Education Law 5709-1949, the State Education 5713-1953, and the Law for Supervision of Schools 5769-1969. In accordance with Amendment 29 of the Mandatory Education Law, an obligation to attend a recognized educational institution applies until 12th grade. Therefore the Education Ministry and the local educational authority must act to bring about the attendance of the student in an educational institution. That said, homeschooling applications will be approved in cases where the parents present a well-established world view which rejects education in a school environment, or cases in which there are exceptional, special and extreme circumstances due to which the Education Ministry will allow an exemption from the Mandatory Education Law for parents who request that their child not study in a recognized educational institution, on the condition the child is found to be receiving a systematic, satisfactory education in his home. In any case this applies to the education of a single child or the children of one family and not the assembly for the purpose of education of children of several families together. Differences of opinion or disputes between the parents and the school shall not serve as a justification for approval of homeschooling.

The authority to approve or reject an application for homeschooling is granted to the Education Minister by section 5(B)(1), (2) and (3) of the Mandatory Education Law 5709-1949. The Minister has devolved this authority upon the Director General and the district directors.

3. The Procedures

3.1 Filing an application for exemption for mandatory education and approval of homeschooling

A. Parents of a child of mandatory education age who wish to provide their child with home education shall file an application with the district director for an exemption from mandatory education and approval of homeschooling.

A copy of the application shall be sent to the head of the education department of the local authority in which the pupil resides. This does not exempt the parents of the pupil from registering the child in a recognized educational institution as defined by the Mandatory Education Law.

B. The district director shall decide whether to approve the application and shall notify the applicant of the decision within three months of the day of the application.

C. So long as an exemption from mandatory education and approval for homeschooling has not yet been received, the parents are obligated to fulfill the directives of the Mandatory Education Law, and are obligated to ensure that the child regularly attends a recognized educational institution as defined by the Mandatory Education Law.

3.2 Notice of the decision

A. Notice of the decision which was reached shall be sent in writing to the parents and the head of the education department of the local authority.

B. A notice of refusal shall include the reasons for which the application was rejected, and shall also note that the applicant is entitled to file an application for reexamination with the Director General in accordance with 3.11 below.

3.3 Conditions for approval

A. The district director is allowed to condition the grant of approval on conditions to be fulfilled in advance, and he is allowed to impose in the approval conditions to be fulfilled after it is granted.

B. The district director shall render his decision only after receiving recommendations from the homeschooling committee, in accordance with 3.6 below.

C. The district director is allowed to consult with the supervisor for homeschooling in the Education Ministry before establishing the conditions and making the decision.

D. The term for the approval shall not exceed two years.

3.4 The applicant must enclose the following with the application:

A. An application form for exemption from the Mandatory Education Law and approval for homeschooling, containing the identifying details of the parents and the pupil, as specified in the application form in Appendix A, along with a photocopy of the identity card of the parents in which the child is listed. The application shall specify why the parents’ educational approach requires in their view the education of their child in a homeschooling environment. The Education Ministry facilitates different educational approaches, however the educational approach presented must satisfy the educational needs of the children and ensure acquisition of study skills, educational skills and social skills.

B. A detailed program which shall meet these conditions:

  • The child shall be exposed to various fields of knowledge encompassing at least 55% of the fields of knowledge in the educational system’s foundation program (the core) according to the structure of clusters, provided he learns language skills in his mother tongue (Hebrew/Arabic), mathematics and social skills. Beyond this the parents and the child may select any field of knowledge in which the child shows interest.
  • The program shall provide adequate opportunity for the child to interact appropriately with his age group and others and to cooperate with them.
  • The program shall enable the child to develop values relating to life in society.
  • The program shall enable the development of the child’s skills in problem solving, analysis, synthesis, communication, data gathering, investigation, reflection and use of a range of technologies, including computer-based technologies.
  • The program shall detail the means of assessment and/or expected outputs from which it will be possible to learn that learning is indeed taking place within the specified period.

3.5 Note that parents who opt for homeschooling are responsible for the planning, implementation and assessment of their child’s learning. It is expected of the parents to show the ability to plan and provide for the educational and learning needs of their child and to demonstrate that his learning environment enables learning as well as access to learning centers such as a library, museums and use of technologies, including computer-based technologies.

Further clarifications can be found in Appendix B, “Guidelines for the presentation of programs for approval of homeschooling”.

3.6 Establishment of a homeschooling committee and its role

A. In the district in which an application for approval of homeschooling is filed, the district director shall appoint a homeschooling committee (below: “the committee”) comprising the following role holders: General supervisor appointed by the district director as the referent for homeschooling (committee chairman); a general supervisor of schools or preschools; a school principal, educational psychologist or educational advisor; the truant officer supervisor; the manager of the educational department in the local authority or someone representing him; and other members, as decided by the district director.

B. The number of members in committee meetings shall not be fewer than 3, including the committee chairman, an educational psychologist or educational advisor, and a general supervisor.

C. The role of the committee is to evaluate the application and to check whether it will ensure that the child indeed receives a suitable education which will allow him normative personal and social function into adulthood.

D. The committee recommends to the district director whether to approve or reject the application.

3.7 Means of evaluating the application

A. The committee should hold a preparatory meeting whose purpose is to study the application and the program filed by the parents.

B. After the preparatory meeting the supervisor who is the referent for the subject in the district or a representative of his shall visit the location in which the learning takes place. The referent supervisor or his representative may add other committee members to the visit. The purpose of the visit is to ensure that conditions indeed obtain which would enable following the plan proposed by the parents as set out in 3.5 above. The time and date of the visit will be coordinated with the parents.

C. The committee may suggest offering the parents comments on the plan for corrections and additions, as well as referring them to relevant educational materials, etc.

D. Close to the date of the visit the committee shall hold a meeting to prepare its recommendations and produce an opinion.

E. The opinion must be detailed. It may include a recommendation for granting an approval under conditions that the recipient of the approval will be required to fulfill in the homeschooling environment, and it must note the length of the term of the approval. The committee can also recommend the maintenance of ongoing contacts with the pupil and his family, ways to maintain the connection (for example by visits, telephone contact and the like), and a schedule of dates for periodic followup and checking of learning outputs.

F. In an application for renewal of an approval the committee shall again recommend to the district director on the extension of the term of the approval, if it is persuaded that the program presented by the parent has indeed been achieved. The committee is allowed to recommend that the district director refuse to renew the approval at the end of the period.

G. The chairman of the committee shall submit the committee’s opinion and its recommendations to the district director.

3.8 Evaluation of an application for homeschooling for a child with special needs

A. A parental application for an exemption of a child with special needs as defined in the Special Education Law 5748-1988, whether he has been assessed and undergone a placement committee or not, shall be subject to the instructions in 3.4 above.

B. The deliberations of the committee, as well as a visit in the place where the learning will take place, shall be held with the participation of the supervisor of special education in order to ensure that the needs of the child are indeed met.

C. Note that children who are confined to the home for a long period of time under the advice of a doctor and/or psychologist shall be subject to the Law for Free Education for Sick Children 5761-2001 and the instructions of the Ministry of Education.

3.9 Means of supervision

A. Parents of a pupil who has received an exemption from the Mandatory Education Law for the purpose of homeschooling shall submit periodic reports at dates to be established to the referent supervisor regarding the fulfillment of the program and the progress of the pupil.

B. The referent supervisor shall follow the implementation of the homeschooling program as it was approved.

3.10 Sharing with the welfare authorities

In exceptional cases, when concern arises among the supervisors for the welfare of the children, the visitor shall report to the welfare authorities as obligated by the obligation of reporting of any harm to the helpless (permanent instructions regarding the obligation of reporting have been published in permanent circular 2009/3(b), section 11–2.1 ).

3.11 Reexamination of the district director’s decision

In case of the refusal of the district director to grant approval, the applicant is entitled, within 14 days of the day he was informed of the refusal, to apply in writing for reexamination to the director general via the supervisor of homeschooling in the Ministry of Education, enclosing all relevant documents.

3.12 Renewal of application

Parents who wish to extend the validity of the homeschooling approval shall apply as specified in this procedure two months before the expiration of the parental approval. Extending the validity of the approval is conditioned on the receipt of the followup reports in accordance with the established schedule, including the checking of learning outputs.

3.13 Revocation of approval

A. If the district director determines that one of the conditions upon which the approval was conditioned was not fulfilled or has ceased to be fulfilled, he is entitled to revoke the approval.

B. Prior to the revocation of the approval, the district director or his representative shall hold a written or oral hearing for the approval holder.

C. If the district director revokes an approval for an exemption from mandatory education and approval for homeschooling, the parent is entitled to file an application for reexamination of the district director to the director general, in accordance with 3.11 above.

3.14 Return of a pupil to a recognized educational institution: If the parents request to return their child to a recognized educational institution or the exemption from mandatory education and the approval for homeschooling have been revoked, the pupil shall be integrated into the appropriate grade. The parents are responsible, in cooperation with the educational institution, for making up missed material insofar as that is necessary.

3.15 It is recommended that contact be maintained between the child and an official or recognized unofficial school for the purpose of receiving services such as use of the school library or resource center, as well as the possibility of participating in social activities in the school facility. Participation is conditional on the school’s agreement. Such agreement will be considered in each case individually and only after receipt of a written declaration from the parents that they have insured the child with personal accident insurance.

3.16 Parents whose child has been approved for homeschooling shall ensure that the child receives health services for which he is entitled by the National Health Law, such as vaccinations. Responsibility for ensuring the receipt of service lies with the parents. They should contact the district health office in their area for information on this topic.

3.17 Note that insurance of all kinds regarding a child who has been approved for homeschooling is the responsibility of the parents.

3.18 Approval of an application for homeschooling does not obligate the Ministry of Education or any other public institution to finance the home education program or to provide any other financial support.

4. Appendices

Appendix 1: Application form for exemption from the Mandatory Education Law for the purpose of education through homeschooling Hebrew original / English translation

Appendix 2: Guidelines for the presentation of programs for approval of homeschooling. Hebrew original / English translation

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