A: An umbrella school is a private school established specifically for homeschooling families. The student is considered a private school student while the family retains the freedom to choose when, where, and how they homeschool. The parents follow the umbrella school's rules and report to the umbrella school instead of registering with and reporting to their local school district.
Q: Am I legally required to use an umbrella school? Do I need one?
A: No, you are not legally required in the state of Florida to use an umbrella school. You also have the option to register with your local school district as a Home Education Program. Either choice is perfectly legal. Do you need an umbrella school? Well, that's up to you. When you register with the school district, you are accountable to them and must follow the state laws for homeschooling. When you register with an umbrella school, you are accountable to the school and must follow its rules. The school follows the state laws established for private schools.
Q: What are the benefits of an umbrella school?
A: That varies from school to school. Some umbrella schools are essentially record keeping services who do the bare minimum required by law. Florida Freedom Academy, however, goes above and beyond the minimum requirements. We offer you personalized academic advising when you feel you need it. This may be especially important in the high school years when you're trying to plan for college. We also maintain transcripts with GPA calculations, apply for Florida Bright Futures scholarships for your child, and assist with dual enrollment in Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas Counties. You still maintain the freedom to choose your own curriculum and educational methods while we help you navigate the maze of paperwork required for these programs. Students who graduate from Florida Freedom Academy will receive a diploma and transcript from our Florida Department of Education registered private school. This can be important when applying to colleges. Some colleges look more favorably upon private school students than homeschool students. A private school transcript is sometimes received more favorably than a parent-prepared transcript. Many future employers will also ask whether the student received a high school diploma. Independent homeschool students do not receive diplomas. They may opt to take the GED exam, but that is often not viewed in the same light as having received a high school diploma. When you are an independent homeschool registered with the county, you report to them once a year. You maintain your own records and you are on your own to find any support or advising you may need.
Q: What will be my obligations to the school?
A: We are required by law to obtain basic permanent information on the student, such as name, date of birth, and address. We are also required by law to maintain a copy of immunization records. The State of Florida also requires 180 days of attendance per year to be documented. Attendance records must be received by our established deadlines to prevent truancy. In order to compile transcripts, we must have a list of classes taken and the grades attained each semester. In the high school years, we require one standardized test per year. You may choose between the PERT, SAT, ACT, PSAT, or any other standardized test. All of these requirements are fulfilled by submitting simple forms to us. We make it as easy as possible for you.
Q: What are your fees?
A: Yearly fees are per student and are due at registration. Elementary school (K-5) $100. Middle School (6-8) $150. High School (9-12) $250. For dual enrollment, add $150 per year.