Withdraw v. Transfer: Does it Matter?

by | Jul 10, 2017

Perhaps you have noticed an occasional topic in the IAHE Homeschool Discussion group related to whether or not homeschoolers should use the term “withdraw” or “transfer” when exiting the public school to homeschool. Indiana Code IC 20-33-2-28.6 uses the terms, “withdraw” and “transfer” when it speaks of homeschoolers exiting the public school to begin homeschooling. The name of the form used by the Indiana Department of Education since December 2013, is Withdrawal from public school and transfer to a non-accredited nonpublic school located in Indiana form.

Since we are dealing with legal terms, we thought it best to get a legal opinion about the terms “transfer” and “withdraw” from HSLDA attorney, Tj Schmidt, who is assigned to Indiana. He answered the following three questions for us:

1.) HSLDA calls their sample letter an “Indiana letter of withdrawal”. Why doesn’t HSLDA call it a letter of transfer? 

We call it a letter of withdrawal because the student is primarily being withdrawn from the public school to be taught at home. Yes, it could also be called a letter of transfer. Since a homeschool program in Indiana is operating as a non-accredited nonpublic school the student is in effect being “transferred” to the non-accredited nonpublic school. However, in a homeschool situation, the parent is exercising their fundamental right and responsibility to educate their child at home and we want the focus to be on the fact that the student is being withdrawn from the public school and not just transferred to a different school. It is also for consistency sake. If your child is enrolled in public school in any state we want parents to be thinking about what they need to do…withdraw their child from the public school. Finally, if you look in IC 20-33-2-28.6 you will see that the Code uses the term transfer and withdraw interchangeably.

2.) Does the term withdrawal denote dropping out?

No, not necessarily. And we make it very clear in our withdrawal notice that the child is being educated at home. The term primarily means that the student is being withdrawn from the public school. A dropout is someone who no longer intends to continue their education in the public school and will not be educated in any other legally recognized manner.

3.) Why is the word “withdrawal” preferable to “transfer” when dealing with student records?    

I don’t know that I would say that either term is better or worse when dealing with student records. Both can be used interchangeably. The only issue with transferring a student from one school to another (i.e. from public school to a non-accredited nonpublic school/homeschool program) is that there might be an expectation that the official student records should also be transferred to the homeschool program. While many parents do want to get a copy of their child’s educational records, and they have a right to review and copy them under federal law.


However, that same law also requires those records to be maintained. And if the official records were routinely sent to homeschool parents what would happen if after just a year or two that child was returned to the public school and the official records could not be located? That child might experience some difficulties in receiving credit for work that had previously been done in the public school. For that reason, you might say that withdrawal is preferable to transfer when dealing with student records.