Answers to Good Questions

In light of the situation occurring in California we’ve decided to update a document used during our last legislature entitled Answers to Good Questions. Nevada law places homeschool responsibility directly on the parent, and also protects children from parents who might try to hide abuse by homeschooling.

A few homeschoolers want more restrictions!

In the 2007 legislature a small but vocal group testified against SB404 in favor of a more restrictive law based on the assumption that homeschoolers were ignorant when it comes to educating their own children and, even worse, may actually neglect their children’s education. Yes, they were “homeschoolers” who believe that most homeschool parents need oversight from the government, despite the overwhelmingly good record of unregulated homeschoolers. This same group has testified against homeschool freedom for years, calling us flower children that “…want to smoke dope and smell flowers”**.

Motives may be profit-driven

We believe their “concerns” are profit-driven as they provide fee-based services to new homeschoolers. Under the old homeschool law and regulations they made many new homeschoolers think their homeschools would only be legal if they used those services. We believe these tactics were and are dishonest. These people do NOT work with recognized homeschool leaders in Nevada to address their concerns, but instead show up at hearings and meetings and try to derail homeschool freedoms by misrepresenting themselves and the facts.

Read our Answers to Good Questions to see FACTS about homeschooling and the measures that Nevada homeschool leaders have taken to protect our FREEDOM. A California situation is very unlikely to occur here in Nevada. Nevada CPS and Nevada courts are appropriately equipped to handle any neglect or abuse reports.

Nevada Homeschool Network response to correct the record:

  • A decision by parents to enroll their child in pubic, private or to homeschool, does not equate with any type of abuse, either physical or educational. Parents and teachers who abuse are a small fraction, and exist throughout society.
  • In Nevada over 90% of children attend public school, yet only 19% of all child abuse reports come from schools. NV law has built in protection for children against abuse, both physical and educational. Government schools and governmental oversight are NOT a foolproof safety net for children. Parents, neighbors, churches, and others are the real protectors of children.
  • In addition to the existing truancy law in NRS 392 and the educational neglect law in NRS 432B, NRS 392.700 subsection 12 allows a court to evaluate a parent’s educational plan.
  • Further restrictions in the law are unnecessary. Requiring homeschoolers to annually notify their district that they are homeschooling is misguided thinking. Current law requires a one time notification and annual re-notification only if the child’s address or name changes. There is no need to further burden local districts or parents with extra paperwork. Clark County, with over 3000 register homeschoolers, has NO dedicated homeschool staff, and does NOT want the extra burden!
  • Nevada Homeschool Network is committed to protecting the right of parents to direct the education of their child as well as ensuring that all parents take full responsibility for the education of that child.

Homeschooling has become a mainstream choice in education. Yet, there are some within our own ranks who are fighting to go backwards to the 1980s when homeschooling was nearly illegal. As always Nevada homeschoolers need to remain vigilant to maintain the hard-fought liberties we gained in 2007.

NHN-Officers

Frank Schnorbus, Elissa Wahl, Barbara Dragon, Carl Lucas, Kelley Millard Radow, and Laura Siegal

**From the Las Vegas Weekly on 9/1/2005 describing homeschoolers as, “Flower children from the ’60s, they don’t like accountability,” says homeschooling parent Suzanne Nounna. “They just want to smoke dope and smell flowers. They’re at the forefront of this, pushing less regulation.”

This comment was made in response to regulation changes being proposed at that time to the Nevada State Board of Education.

Update on CA Homeschooling

Emotions of shock, fear and indignation continue to prevail amongst homeschool supporters nationwide regarding the California appeals court ruling on homeschooling last week. Many people are wondering how this will affect homeschoolers in other states. Our answer is that it depends on the laws in each state.

Just after our new homeschool law here in Nevada was passed last June I remember being asked on several occasions what was “different”. The most obvious difference is our one-time Notification. But underneath, homeschooling in Nevada was completely changed! The analogy I used was a bridge over a river: you can drive over a turn-of-the-century wooden bridge, and unknowingly cause structural creakings and stresses. Or replace it with a modern super-structure designed to handle modern traffic, and the bridge will hardly know you’re crossing. Although Nevada has had a homeschool law of sorts on the books since 1947, it gave broad powers to the local pubic school district and to the State Board of Education. In fact, a 1982 court case in Humboldt County resulted in a court opinion very similar to this California case; homeschooling was not allowed. Had our new law not passed, this California case almost certainly could have had a huge negative affect on Nevada homeschoolers. There could be significant impact in states with laws similar to our old law, or in states similar to California where homeschooling isn’t even defined.

Earlier today Dr. James Dobson had several important guests on his Focus on the Family radio show. Roy Hanson of Family Protection Ministries (the California version of Nevada Homeschool Network), Michael Farris of HSLDA, and others discussed the California situation. You can listen to the broadcast I also saw the San Francisco Chronicle had this homeschooling case as their front page top headline. It was encouraging to read this:

“State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell issued a statement saying he supports “parental choice when it comes to homeschooling.” That was encouraging!

Click here to read the entire article.

It’s important to know that, unfortunately, this case has it’s roots in a family where there have been several allegations of abuse over the past two decades. We’ve read some court documents – we don’t know if they’re “public” information and don’t want to be part of spreading them if they’re not – that depict some of the abuse the children have allegedly gone through. So we encourage people to sign the petition to depublish the court case, but we suggest people refrain from jumping to the defense of the family. The case centered around abuse, not around homeschooling. This court opinion, however, went far beyond the immediate case at hand, judging all homeschoolers in the entire State.

We will continue to keep everyone updated as we learn more. The bottom line for Nevada is, be thankful! And keep California homeschoolers in your thoughts and prayers.

NHN Officers

Elissa Wahl, Laura Siegel, Carl Lucas, Kelley Radow, Barb Dragon,

Frank Schnorbus

Chaos in California

Just a few days ago, on February 28th, a momentous Appellate Court decision was handed down in California. Some of you may have heard about it elsewhere; let’s call it an “opportunity” for homeschool law improvement in California! HSLDA has stated that, if followed, this decision will cause California to have the most regressive law in the nation and homeschooling will be effectively banned. HSLDA was not a party to the case, and found out about it when the decision was made public.

In California the most common way to homeschool is to enroll your child in a private school. Below is a quote from “Private and Home Educators of California, Legal-Legislative Update” for August/September 2007, by Roy M. Hanson, Jr.. (Family Protection Ministries, PO Box 730, Lincoln, Calif 95648-0730):

“Enrolling your compulsory-age child in a private school (whether home-based or campus-based), which has filed a current private school affidavit, exempts your child from compulsory attendance at a public

school, according to California Education Code Sections 48222 and 33190. In California, there is no legally-defined entity known as a ‘homeschool.’ In order to be consistent with the law of our state, we do not use the term ‘homeschool’ with public school officials.”

The unanimous decision, by Justices Walter Croskey, Joan D. Klein, and Patti S. Kitching, said that enrolling the children in the private school (Sunland Christian School) was depriving them of an education in a public or private full-time day school setting. It was a “ruse of enrolling them in a private school and then letting them stay home and be taught by a non-credentialed parent.” The court also threw out the parental claim they were homeschooling their children because of religious beliefs. Citing the Supreme Court Amish case (Wisconsin v. Yoder), this family wasn’t religious enough, causing some commentators to wonder if it is necessary to be super-religious to gain special favors from the government.

All of this is on the heels of California passing into law the very controversial SB777, which prohibits public schools and teachers from “reflecting adversely” on gays and lesbians, which many say will prevent schools from using the terms “mommy” or “daddy”. Many groups have recently come together under “California Exodus”, calling for people to get their children out of public schools.

The court decision strikes me as very similar to the Nevada case in Humboldt County (the Wallace case) in 1982. In that case an application to homeschool was denied by the local school district because the parents weren’t credentialed, the parents had no Constitutional right to educate their own children, and the parents weren’t religious enough (according to the secular court).

Nevada now has a very different type of law protecting our legal right to homeschool. We are not considered “private” schools, and homeschooling is defined in law. Parents are directly responsible for the education of their children. Provision is made for the courts to verify homeschooling is occurring, if a court requests it, to help prevent abuse of the law from occurring. A religious clause similar to the Federal RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) helps prevent a secular court from deciding whether you’re “religious” or not. Many provisions have been included by our legislators to allow us to participate in public school special education, in public school classes, and in sports and other extracurricular activities, as well as full access to the state’s Millennium Scholarship program for our graduates. We have so much to be thankful for! Be sure to tell your Assemblyman or Senator thank you!

NHN Officers

Frank Schnorbus, Elissa Wahl, Kelley Radow, Barb Dragon, Laura Siegel, Carl Lucas

To learn more about the California situation, here are some helpful links:

Education in the News

Court’s homeschool ban creating ‘panic’

“Required by California law”

Homeschooling in California

Judge orders homeschoolers into government education

Court: No Constitutional Right to Educate Children at Home

Defending Homeschool Freedom in California

Court Ruling

Public Hearing for changes to the NAC

The State Board of Education held a Public Hearing for changes to the NAC regarding homeschooling. The changes were unanimously passed. See NAC 392; as amended. They are effective immediately.