Alerts-2005

April 13, 2005 Legislative Update, Bill #’s

We have a number of bills that we’ve been tracking, and we’ve attended and testified before committees in both the Senate and the Assembly. Below is the status of the most significant bills and a brief description. A bill that has passed out of committee now goes to the full floor of its respective house, and if it passes it goes over to the other house and begins the committee process all over again.

We have several bills that we’d like to see pass! Please call your Senator for the SB (Senate Bill)s, and your Assemblyman for the AB (Assembly Bill)s. To find out who your Senator or Assemblyman is, go to http://mapserve.leg.state.nv.us/website/lcb/viewer.htm It’s easy!

Senate Contact Information

Assembly Contact Information

Many of the bills have been amended, and look considerably different than when originally introduced! As the legal staff of the legislature completes the amendments, they post the amended bills at http://www.leg.state.nv.us/73rd/Reports/ Follow the Assembly Bills or the Senate Bills link to the bill, and download the most recent version. As mentioned, many may not show up yet since the staff is backlogged due to the last-minute deadline frenzy.

SB 367 – Provides more options for Districts and parents when a child has been expelled a second time for certain offenses. Currently the only option is to homeschool (or private school, but private schools usually won’t take these students). This bill allows the student to receive distance education, or
independent study, or enroll in a charter school. In many cases the child will be better served with one of these options, since often the parent(s) do not want to homeschool. This bill passed the Human Resources and Education Committee in the Senate. Please call your Senator and ask for a “yes” vote on the full floor!

SB 221 – This bill addresses sports for homeschooled children who want to do sports at their local public school. Last session (2003) a bill was passed, but it was subsequently determined to apply only to grades 9-12. SB 221 will expand this to all grades. This bill passed the Human Resources and Education Committee in the Senate. Please call your Senator and ask for a “yes” vote on the full floor!

SB 402 - This bill puts into Nevada law provisions of the CAPTA law that was passed by the US Congress and signed into Federal law in 2003. This bill requires social workers to get training on the rights of people they’re investigating, including Fourth Amendment rights. It also requires the social worker to inform the family at the time of initial contact as to what the allegations are. Homeschoolers and others in the past have been the victims of overzealous social workers, and this should help the worker to understand the legal limits of their duties. This bill passed the Human Resources and Education Committee in the Senate. Please call your Senator and ask for a “yes” vote on the full floor!

SB 223 – This bill sets up a voucher system for private schools and includes a provision for
homeschool vouchers for those who choose to apply for them. While many homeschool leaders have concern about accepting vouchers because of potential “strings” that may be attached to the funds, this bill does give the homeschooler the option. This bill would offer many good options for all students in Nevada, not just homeschoolers, and we therefore support its passage. This bill passed the Human Resources and Education Committee in the Senate. Please call your Senator and ask for a “yes” vote on the full floor!

AB 397 - This bill has numerous provisions in it, primarily for the public school system. Originally it contained language requiring testing for homeschoolers, but when the bill came to committee the
author immediately withdrew that section, explaining that it was language from a previous legislative
session and it was not intended to have been included in this bill. The author further amended the bill to
state that a homeschooler who wants a Nevada high school diploma must pass the High School Proficiency Exam. This has not been an option to Nevada homeschoolers in the past, and is certainly welcomed by homeschoolers as an option. There were numerous other amendments to this bill, and by the time the committee was done it received full bipartisan support. We believe it would help homeschoolers and therefore should get a chance to go to the Senate for consideration. We support its passage. This bill passed the Education Committee in the Assembly. Please call your Assemblyman and ask for a “yes” vote on the full floor!

Thank you to all of you who called, emailed, and otherwise contacted your legislators in the past few
weeks! Your involvement is critical to our success at the legislature. We feel that education is a bipartisan effort, and appreciate the courtesy and appreciation that we’ve received from the many legislators that we’ve met with. Be sure to thank them for their service to education and to our Silver State.

April 10, 2005 CPS Bill, SB 402

It is with great pleasure that we can announce another “good” bill that is up for a hearing. SB 402 makes various changes regarding Child Protective Services and other agencies to meet a new Federal law. This bill will be heard Monday April 11 at 1:30pm.

As you know, some homeschoolers here in Nevada and across the country have been harassed by people calling in anonymous “tips”. While still protecting children, the new Federal law requires social workers to have training in Constitutional issues (4th Amendment vs “demanding” to be allowed to search your home). It also requires the social worker to inform the family of the allegations against them during the initial contact. Believe it or not, it has been “standard practice” until this new Federal law to NOT tell people what they’re being accused of. Needless to say, this has provided a great “power trip” for some government employees who enjoyed abusing the power they had. Thankfully the majority of employees don’t fit into that category, but just one bad apple can have such devastating effects on a family.

This law would help protect the rights of all families in Nevada, not just homeschoolers.

April 8, 2005, Legislative Update, Forced Homeschooling Bill

The Senate Committee passed this Bill, SB 367 today. It still has a long way to go to become law, look for our updates!

April 7, 2005 Legislative Update, Forced Homeschooling, SB 367

On Friday, April 8th, the Senate Human Resources and Education will hear the Bill NHN has pushed for…The Forced Homeschooling Bill, SB 367.

This bill is the most important homeschool bill that we have before the legislature this session.

In some districts, particularly in Washoe where the hostility towards homeschoolers is a proven fact, the district is using this loophole to rid their district of troublesome students. The district expels the kid, and forces (legally) the kid to be either homeschooled or private schooled. Most private schools won’t accept an expelled child. They then claim that these kids aren’t being homeschooled (no duhhhhh!) by their parent(s) who have no desire to homeschool. Meanwhile, their school and district test scores go up, because a high percentage of these students are low academic achievers. This translates into money for their district and administrators.

This bill is intended to give the districts and parents more options: Distance education, Independent study, charter schools, etc., all of which are public school programs. The parent would still have the option (and right) to homeschool, but usually in these circumstances the parent doesn’t want to.

April 6, 2005 Legislative Update, Testing Hearing

The testing portion of this bill was withdrawn in the opening portion of this hearing as an amendment.
The 300+ emails received by Committee Members and the more than 50 homeschoolers in attendance were a very positive addition to the outcome of this bill.

As a surprise, the Sponsor of the Bill added a section about homeschoolers to section 8, which reads” Amends by addition, to require a homeschooled child who is exempt from compulsory attendance to take the proficiency exams for the purpose of securing a Nevada High School diploma.”

In testimony we clarified that there are currently no means for a homeschooled student to get a high school diploma, and clarified with them the intent, that this is not mandatory test taking of the proficiency test. This is solely an option if one wants to obtain a diploma. Chairman Parnell assured us at least three times that it would be optional but we will watch the wording closely. This bill was sent to Workshop.

April 6, 2005 NHN’s Position Paper on AB 397, Testing

NHN Against AB 397, Mandatory Testing

April 4, 2005 Legislative Update, Testing of Homeschoolers

AB 397 wants to add testing for homeschoolers. The hearing will be held Wednesday, April 6th, in Rm
3142 at the Legislature in Carson City. Videoconference of the meeting will be in Las Vegas at the Grant Sawyer State Offices, 555 E. Washington Ave., Room 4406. AB397 is the second item on the agenda.

AB 397 adds the below language:
392.070 1. Attendance required by the provisions of NRS 392.040 must be excused when satisfactory written evidence is presented to the board of trustees of the school district in which the child resides that the child is receiving at home or in some other school equivalent instruction of the kind and amount approved by the State Board. As a condition to excusing a homeschooled child from compulsory attendance, the board of trustees of the school district shall require:
(a) The child to take the achievement and proficiency examinations administered pursuant to NRS 389.015, excluding the high school proficiency examination, if the grade level in which those examinations are administered is commensurate with the grade level in which the child receives instruction at home.
(b) That the results of the achievement and proficiency examinations administered to the child be submitted to the Department. _ The State Board shall adopt regulations governing the administration of the achievement and proficiency examinations, excluding the high school proficiency examination, to homeschooled children to ensure the confidentiality and security of the examinations.

To read this bill:

http://leg.state.nv.us/73rd/bills/AB/AB397.pdf

sect 9, page 21

April 4, 2005 Legislative Update

Support Religious Freedom Bill , AB 246

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), Assembly Bill 246, has recently been introduced by Assemblyman Bernie Anderson.

Nevada Homeschoolers of all faiths now have an opportunity to win a solid legislative victory for religious freedom. In order to achieve this victory, NHN urges you to immediately contact your state assembly member to support the Nevada Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Assembly Bill 246. (find my legislator:

http://mapserve.leg.state.nv.us/website/lcb/viewer.htm)

Religious freedom is one of the fundamental foundation blocks for the right to homeschool. Therefore, passage of a RFRA in Nevada will strengthen your right to homeschool.

March 28, 2005 Legislative Update

We have several bills/issues before various committees, and we need people to testify at each one of these! Occasionally they are teleconferenced to Las Vegas. Please, at the very least call your legislator and ask for support!

Wednesday, March 30, 1:30 has a hearing before the Senate Committee on Human Resources and Education on SB221, which allows homeschoolers to play on ANY public school interscholastic team (not just high school which is what last session provided). It also allows a private school who belongs to a public school league to accept homeschoolers (if the private school chooses) without interference from the league (the law calls it an “association”). This keeps public schools from having an unfair advantage if a super-talented homeschool child wants to play, and private schools in the league aren’t allowed to let him on the team. More often, though, a homeschool child may just prefer to play sports on a private school team, regardless of the level of his sports ability.

We really need testimony from folks who want their middle school kids to play. Some districts are being very problematic about “just letting the kids play”, and either excluding homeschoolers or requiring excessive restrictions.

Other bills coming up soon :

AB246 – Enacts Nevada Religious Freedom Restoration Act to prohibit governmental entities from substantially burdening the exercise of religion. This bill may not seem important, but in many homeschool cases that have gone to the US Supreme Court, victory has been achieved because of the freedom of religion aspect. Issues such as which curriculum you can use (and which ones will be accepted by the public schools if you had to put your child into public school), and several others, make this a very important bill.

Bill 617 - this will address the “forced homeschooling” issue whereby current Nevada law requires a child who has been expelled from public school to be homeschooled in some cases. While we agree that the parent has the ultimate responsibility for the education of their child, we think that some children are in this trouble because of a dysfunctional home, and that existing public school programs now exist that can address the needs of these children. A parent should always have the option to homeschool, but usually these parents don’t want to.

SB223 – Note Section 34 on pg 18 regarding vouchers for homeschoolers! This goes hand in hand with our recent “fiscal impact of homeschooling on local districts” study that was sponsored by NHN, and would return a fraction for our own kids of the money we pay for the public school kids.

There are other bills that we are getting information on, so please keep track! Our legislative session is short but intense, and we need folks to step up to the plate!

March 24, 2005 Legislative Update

Bill Draft Request 34-338 has been withdrawn. This request was through Senator Carlton, with a description of “Revises provisions governing homeschooled children.”

Bill Draft Request 34-1158, “requested by legislator”, has turned into Senate Bill 221, sponsored by Senator Barbara Cegavske. It “provides for participation of homeschooled children in certain interscholastic activities and events.” Full text is available at:
SB 221

This Sports Bill does two things:

(A) to prevent any public school association (including the NIAA, but that could also be any middle school or elementary school association that operates outside of NRS 386.420 to 386.470) from preventing homeschoolers from joining private school teams who are members of that association.

(B) to require any public school (elementary, middle or high school) to allow homeschool participation in
interscholastic sports. Currently the law restricts it to high school by the clause “pursuant to NRS 386.420 to 386.470, inclusive” in 392.070 #3. The LCB opinion (Ref 0403241630) dated April 13, 2004 to Assemblyman Knecht states that the word “association” referred to in this NRS applies only to the NIAA which governs high school sports. Therefore sports participation not addressed in this NRS (such as elementary and middle school sports associations) fall under the LCB opinion (Ref No. 0003161258) dated March 28, 2000 to Senator Washington that leaves participation up to the individual districts.

March 12, 2005 Sports Win For Homeschoolers!

We are happy to report that a couple of small victories have been won by homeschoolers at the recent board meeting of the NIAA (Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association)! The NIAA regulates public high school sports in Nevada. Private schools may also become NIAA members, as well as border schools in other states. Some private high schools may have their own leagues, so the NIAA league regulations don’t apply to them.

For several months now the NIAA has been considering language regarding the participation of homeschoolers on NIAA private high school teams. State law (passed in 2003) already requires the NIAA to set regulations allowing the participation of homeschoolers on public high school teams. Two options were being considered:

Option 1: “A home school student may participate in athletics at a private school with the acceptance of the private school. The private school may also assess a reasonable fee for this participation. Home school students would be affected by all transfer rules if they should choose to change schools after participation.”

Option 2: “Home school students are not eligible at magnate, charter or private schools.”

Several letters between the NIAA and homeschool leaders were sent, I attended a NIAA meeting in the north while Kime Patraw and Elissa Wahl attend a NIAA meeting in the south, and the Homeschool Advisory Councils in the north and in the south both discussed the issues at their February meetings. A letter outlining the homeschool position, which included a letter from homeschool dad/attorney Devon Reese, was sent to the NIAA. Our agenda item at the NIAA board meeting was heard on March 10th, and it was on the day before Devon got the NIAA attorney’s response.

With all of this documentation and with a lot of Board presentation experience under our belts, three of us attended the NIAA board meeting in Reno. Devon addressed the NIAA attorney’s letter and some potential Constitutional issues, I addressed existing and potential Nevada laws and existing homeschool regulations, and Marco Alcalde addressed NIAA regulations. The ensuing discussion was stimulating, but in the end with only one “nay” vote, the NIAA Board adopted Option #1.

I am not sure how this will play out, but I’m hoping to talk to Dr. Jerry Hughes (executive director of the NIAA) about sending a letter to NIAA private schools about what is required of them in the existing NIAA regulations. Dr. Hughes reported to the Board that since the public school law has gone into effect that there hasn’t been a single problem brought to his attention regarding homeschoolers’ involvement in the public schools. Let’s keep it this way!

Another item regarding homeschoolers was also discussed, that being the taking of college classes by a student and when does that student cease to come under compulsory education laws (and therefore
ineligible to play in the NIAA) and become a “college student”. We pointed out that this restrictive NIAA regulation applies to all students (public, private and home school), and that it seems counter-educational to punish a gifted child for taking too many college classes by not letting him participate in NIAA sports. Several board members raised questions about this, and it was decided to table the issue until the NIAA attorney could draft new language that would address this problem, and homeschoolers would be subject to the same language that applies to public and private schooled children.

This too is a victory for two reasons; first it doesn’t single out homeschoolers with specially restrictive regulations (which would be against Nevada law), and secondly because all children in all schools would benefit from less restrictive regulations regarding college. It seems it would be wrong to hold a child back academically so that he/she could play sports, especially when sports and academics are so heavily favored in scholarships and Ivy league college recruitment. The work on this issue isn’t done yet, but we’re hopeful that the redirection will be beneficial to all children, including homeschoolers.

Thanks to those who have helped and kept us in prayer, and especially thanks to Marco and Devon who put many many hours into this!

If you have questions, please feel free to contact me!

Frank Schnorbus

Feb 10, 2005 NPRI’s Homeschool Study released!

Nevada Policy Research Institute has just released an impressive study on the Fiscal Impact of Homeschooling on the Public School System. This study shows what we already knew….homeschoolers not only don’t cost the districts money, but even SAVE the districts money.

This one-of-a-kind study can be read here: NPRI Homeschool Study

Financial contributions are still being sought for this important study. Tax deductible donations may be sent directly to NPRI, 2077 E. Sahara Ave., Suite A, Las Vegas, Nevada 89104

Feb 7th, 2005: Legislative Session opened

This session NHN Officers are working diligently behind the scenes not only to promote homeschooling, but to promote the IMAGE of the homeschooler. We are working on many different areas and will put the call out for help when we have specific times/dates/bill numbers etc. Meanwhile, any contact with Senators and Assemblymen should express support for bills that are homeschool friendly and express non-support for more restrictions on homeschooling.

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