NHN began working with the State Superintendent’s office last fall on the 2011 Legilsative Bill Draft Request process, and subsequently has had a series of meetings and discussions.
• BDR 438, submitted by the State Department of Education, lifted a restriction against homeschoolers taking distance education classes offered by the public school system (which includes charter schools since they are public schools).
• The BDR also imposed a requirement on homeschoolers who are leaving homeschooling to submit a letter to the district to withdraw their homeschool status.
• Currently it appears there are not any other BDRs or bills that directly affect homeschooling.
In the 2007 legislative session NHN stated its neutral position on homeschoolers taking public school distance education classes. In principle NHN supports the freedom that homeschoolers should be able to partake of public programs and services (such as public school classes) since homeschoolers are taxpayers too. But without safeguards, these alluring programs can devastate the distinctions between true homeschooling and the “look-a-like” public school distance education programs that are offered by both local districts and charter schools. Reports from homeschoolers in other states illustrate the critical necessity of keeping a clear delineation between the two types of schooling.
Since BDR 438 contained no safeguards whatsoever, such as limiting the number of public school distance ed classes a homeschooler can take (and still be called a homeschooler) to less than 50% of the workload, NHN opposed that portion of the BDR as it was written. State Superintendent Keith Rheault acknowledged and agreed with our concerns. Later, the Legislative Council Bureau (LCB) informed Dr. Rheault that this portion of the BDR was technically flawed as proposed. Dr. Rheault, heeding these concerns, struck that language from the BDR before it matured into an actual Assembly Bill.
Still remaining in the bill (BDR 438, now Assembly Bill 41) is the language pertaining to notifying the district if you decide to stop homeschooling and enroll in another school (public or private) or move out of state. In a meeting last week with Superintendent Rheault, NHN questioned the necessity of this clause for resolving problems the DoE is having with some schools (apparently) receiving state money for registered homeschoolers (which would be illegal). In this effort to understand the root problem and find a constructive resolution, Dr. Rheault agreed that this notification by the parent would not resolve the problem and would be an unnecessary burden on homeschoolers. He has agreed to request an amendment to remove that requirement when the bill is presented to the legislative Education subcommittee.
Only one line, pertaining to what a charter school needs to do if a former homeschooler enrolls in their school, remains. NHN believes this is the key element to resolving the aforementioned accountability problem, and supports that clause.
Our freedom to homeschool came at a great cost, with countless people spending countless hours over many years to get where we are today. NHN is committed to maintaining those freedoms! Any session, including 2011, can present difficult challenges to the parental right to homeschool. We at NHN want to thank you in advance for your prayers and support.
We will be givng a full update on this and any other issues that arise in the next two weeks, at the 2011 NHN Legislature Day & Homeschool Symposium on Friday, February 25th. More information can be found by clicking the Symposium tab above.