Umbrella Schools Give Help
When you decided to homeschool, chances are one of the first things you researched were your state's homeschooling laws and requirements. States range from liberal to strict oversight of homeschoolers.
A homeschool umbrella school is an independent school that offers enrolled families a way to comply with state laws. In most circumstances, these schools offer families a chance to homeschool under private school laws, where they may find much more freedom from intervention than following homeschooling regulations individually. These types of schools can be set up as a local organization, or as a distance or online school. In some states, legal homeschooling may only be done through an umbrella or cover school, while in other states, umbrella schools can offer benefits to homeschooling families, but are not required by state law.
Research your state's laws by searching your state's name plus "Department of Education." Once on that website, read sections for both homeschooling laws and private school laws. Home School Legal Defense Association has a list of state laws with interpretations and charts. Some states' umbrella schools come under homeschool laws, while others fall into the private school category. Look for policies on financial aid for state colleges as well, and any restrictions on out-of-state schools vs. in-state umbrella schools.
Another area to pay close attention to is your state's rules governing participating in after-school sports and activities. In some states, enrollment in an umbrella school may nullify any right you have to play public school sports. If this is the case where you live, realize that there have been cases where parents have forged successful relationships with supportive administrators within their public schools, and have gained access to extracurricular activities and sports. Don't give up on the idea but prepare and practice a proposal you can take to your school superintendent if you need to -- you can pave the way for other homeschooling familes along with your own!