Frequently Asked Questions
An umbrella school is a private school that allows parents to educate their children at home.
There are two exceptions to compulsory attendance at a public school in Colorado: homeschool and private school. Each of those exceptions come with certain legal requirements, with the private school requirements being less restrictive than those for homeschool. When the wording of the private school exception changed from “attending” to “enrolled in” private school, it became possible to enroll but never physically attend a private school to avoid compulsory attendance. What that means is that if you choose to enroll your child in an umbrella school, the child is technically considered to be a private school student and you are no longer obligated to meet the requirements of the homeschool law. Instead, you need to meet the requirements of the school.
No you do not.
Students enrolled in an umbrella school are not subject to the homeschool law. They are considered private school students, so a notice of intent is not required.
Although there is no legal requirement to notify the district, PRS strongly recommends that you do to avoid possible truancy allegations.
If you have submitted an NOI to a Colorado school district for your child for any previous school year, PRS recommends that you notify the district that your child is enrolled in PRS by submitting your Statement of Enrollment if any of the following apply:
1. You submitted an NOI for the current school year.
⇒ Notify the district AFTER you have received confirmation of enrollment with PRS.
2. You submitted an NOI for the previous school year and are enrolling in PRS at the beginning of the new school year.
⇒ Notify the district BEFORE the public school year begins or as soon as possible after enrollment.
3. Your child has been enrolled in any private or umbrella school, including PRS, for ANY length of time since you last submitted an NOI, and you did not notify the district at the time of initial enrollment.
⇒ Notify the district as soon as possible.
If your child has been enrolled in a public school or if you have previously notified the district that your child was enrolled in a private or umbrella school since the last time you submitted an NOI, you do not need to notify the district.
NOTE: If your child completed last year in public school and is considered to be enrolled this year, you must formally withdraw from the public school BEFORE the new school year begins (or as soon as possible) so they will not report your child as truant.
Your Statement of Enrollment is available from your account page under “Documents & Forms” as soon as your child’s enrollment is complete.
Yes, you must withdraw your child from the public school.
If your child completed the previous school year in a public school and is considered enrolled for the upcoming year, you must formally withdraw your child from the school BEFORE the new school year begins (or as soon as possible) so they will not consider your child truant.
Yes, but it’s best to check with the district ahead of time.
The law limits enrollment to only one publicly funded program at a time. Since umbrella schools are not publicly funded, this isn’t a problem. The district may ask you to submit a notice of intent (NOI) because they will assume you are schooling under the homeschool law. You may submit your PRS Statement of Enrollment instead.
My own children and others enrolled in PRS attend publicly funded enrichment programs with no issues. However, it is important to know that individual school districts may have different policies and may not understand what an umbrella school is. The best approach is to ask the district and work out any issues before enrolling. Please contact PRS if you need assistance.
Submit a statement of enrollment instead.
My own children attend an Options program while enrolled in PRS and I have had no problem using their statement of enrollment in place of an NOI. You can print or download a copy of your statement of enrollment from your account page.
Keep in mind that individual school districts may have different policies and may not understand what an umbrella school is. The best approach is to ask the district and work out any issues before enrolling. Please contact PRS if you need assistance.
Umbrella schools are governed by private school laws.
In practical day-to-day life, you are indeed homeschoolers, but PRS is considered a private school under Colorado Law. Once enrolled, your children are legally considered private school students and you are subject to the requirements of the private school law. For more information, read “What is an Umbrella School?”above.
Poudre River School
Yes, that is true. PRS does not require any testing or evaluation.
Children enrolled in an umbrella school are not considered homeschool students under the law. Instead, they are private school students and are subject to private school law. Although some umbrella schools do require testing, private schools are not required to test or evaluate students.
No, a non-medical exemption may be submitted in lieu to immunization records to complete enrollment.
IMPORTANT: Your child’s enrollment will remain pending until immunization documents (records or an exemption) are approved by PRS.
To expedite enrollment, you may submit a non-medical exemption via the online form even if your child has received vaccinations. To find this form, click on “Submit Immunizations” under “Student Records & Reporting” on your account page.
There is a 30-day grace-period from your registration date to submit immunization documents to complete enrollment. On your account page, children are listed as “Registered” until their immunization documents are approved by PRS, after which they will be listed as “Enrolled.” Your child’s official PRS enrollment date will be retroactive to their registration date. You will receive a weekly reminder email until immunization documents have been received and approved by PRS for at least one child. If the required documentation is not received within 30 days, your child’s enrollment will be canceled.
If for any reason you are not able to submit immunization documents, either records or an exemption, within 30 days of registration, please contact PRS for assistance.
No, PRS is a basic records-only program
PRS does not offer any enrichment programs or classes. However, children enrolled with PRS may also enroll in private or publicly funded homeschool enrichment programs.
Some umbrella schools offer in-person classes, social activities, testing services, etc. If you are interested in these services, I am happy to refer you to schools that offer them.
Annual tuition applies to the PRS school year, which is July 1st through June 30th.
Tuition is not pro-rated regardless of when you enroll. For example, whether you enroll in August or January, your annual tuition will apply through June 30th.
Semester reporting, consisting of grades or a semester summary, is required to protect the school and all enrolled students legally.
To comply with the law, PRS must document in some manner that students are receiving the required instruction. When you submit semester grades or summary, you will also acknowledge a statement which says that your child has received the instruction required by law. If for any reason PRS is required to provide a statement to a school district, your submission will provide back-up for your statement of compliance.
See Required Reporting for more information.
Attendance reporting is required to protect the school and all enrolled students legally.
Colorado law requires that private school students receive 172 days of instruction each year. To comply with the law, PRS requires that attendance is in the system for all students for the attendance reporting months that the family chooses. If you are an unschooler, it is up to you to determine which days you wish to report as “attendance” days.
Online attendance forms are set up to make reporting quick and easy. All weekdays are pre-filled for months September through May, so you only need to remove days you don’t want to count. Once you’ve entered planned attendance for the year during enrollment, you are all set for the year. You will not need to return to the attendance page unless you wish to make changes.
No, they do not.
You may use any course names that you would like. It is not possible to convey exactly what has been covered by course names alone. When you submit semester grades, you will check a box to verify that your child has received or will receive instruction in the required subjects during the school year. Colorado law requires that private school students receive a “Basic academic education”, which includes instruction in specific subjects. It is entirely up to you to determine how those requirements have been met.
Yes, but it is optional.
You can report and update attendance for any days during the PRS school year of July 1st to June 30th at any time, including planned attendance for the entire year. If you prefer, you may simply record attendance for the remainder of the year. In this case, the 172-day requirement is assumed to be met if your records show approximately 17 days per month.
While PRS does not require specific courses or any information about curricula, a certain number of credits in basic categories are required to earn a PRS diploma. It is totally up to you to decide how your child will earn those credits.
The PRS diploma requirements and recommended courses are fairly typical and modeled on what public schools require and what colleges expect to see. However, if your child is interested in attending college, it is a good idea to contact several possible colleges to ask what they look for on a transcript. If not, you should base course choices on what will be best for your child.
Yes, they can.
All high school (grade 9-12) courses are included on the transcript. To enter non-credit high school course, select “.00” under credits. This course will now be included on the transcript with no credits and will not affect GPA calculations.
This is on the PRS “to-do” list. Currently, high school credits may only be entered for grades 9-12. The system will be updated later this year to allow high school credits to be entered for 8th-grade students.
PRS has a clear process to follow to make sure that your child’s credits will be accepted.
PRS reviews all high school credits entered each semester. The two reasons for the review and approval are to make sure that your child’s transcript will present them the way they wish to future colleges or employers and to allow PRS to confidently issue an official transcript and diploma with PRS administrator’s signature.
Credits are almost always approved as submitted, but there may be rare circumstances where they are not. For more info, see High School Credit Approval.
You may access all of your students’ records from your account page, including high school transcripts.
To view a student’s transcript, click on “grades” next to the student’s name. From the grades page, click on the “VIEW HS TRANSCRIPT” button. To print, click on “Print Transcript” in the upper right corner of the transcript page.
No, it is optional.
You are welcome to issue your own transcript and diploma if you prefer. In that case, you would report grades as “unofficial,” without credits. This reporting keeps you in good standing with PRS by providing backup to the statement you will affirm each semester that your child has received a “basic academic education” as required by law.
Unofficial high school grades are not reviewed by PRS and do not apply to an official PRS transcript or diploma. Instead, you would then “transfer” your child’s grades and credits to your own homeschool transcript and issue a diploma yourself.
Not at this time.
A subject-based PRS transcript may be made available in the future. Currently, the only format available is semester based. This format is similar to what most public high schools use to record a student’s high school credits.
PRS acknowledges that by creating a high school transcript in this format, we are sometimes attempting to document a non-traditional education in a traditional format. Although this can benefit students who will need such a document to present themselves to people who are only familiar with traditional schooling, it isn’t the only way to do things.
If you prefer to issue a transcript in a different format, you may opt to submit “unofficial” grades and create your own transcript instead.