Homeschool families, public schools and the superintendent: An analysis of interactions in New Jersey and Pennsylvania

Loretta Bellina, Fordham University


Little research exists on the interesting relationship among superintendents of schools, the public school districts, and those parents who have elected to “homeschool” their children—as over a million are now doing. This topic probes at the heart of the public/private, religious/secular, and institutional/familial relationships that help shape the education of a rising number of children: those being homeschooled. The scope of this investigation consisted of 3 broad areas: the extent of administrator's responsibilities for overseeing the instruction of homeschooled students; the extent that laws, regulations, and policies affect attitudes and actions of superintendents toward homeschool families; and the extent to which public school superintendents in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and homeschooling families in those respective states desire a cooperative relationship or services from the public school district. This 2-state, comparative case study examined the attitudes and perceptions of superintendents toward homeschool families as these parents relate to laws, regulations, curriculum, parent as teacher, local, state, and federal assessment, diploma, special education, and services available to the homeschool child. Sample superintendents and homeschool families were interviewed and responses were analyzed to understand the complexity of these relationships. Specific laws and cases in New Jersey and Pennsylvania are included, as a means for understanding legal impact on relationships between superintendents and homeschool families. The study defined the limits and role of the public system, and its leadership, and the broader concerns for the education of all children. As such, this dissertation fills a void in the literature on US education, and looks at a little-noticed relationship between the “public school” and the family. As homeschooling grows, and public controls increase we may face a future of conflict, and superintendents and those who write policy need to understand the dynamics of the relationship between homeschoolers and public school leadership.

Subject Area

School administration|Education history

Recommended Citation

Bellina, Loretta, "Homeschool families, public schools and the superintendent: An analysis of interactions in New Jersey and Pennsylvania" (2005). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3166560.