Legal News

Home Education Legislative Update House Bill 1414

Note: The bill was discussed at a hearing before the House Education Committee, Thursday, January 28. At the executive session March 1 the HEC voted 19-1 to recommend HB1414 Inexpedient to Legislate, which would kill the bill. The one committee member who voted against this recommendation was Rep. Jason Osborne (R) of Auburn. HB1414 was placed on the Consent Calendar, where it is grouped with approximately 300 other bills for a quick vote by the full House in favor of committee recommendations. The House will take up this bill on Wednesday, March 9.

However the prime sponsor, Rep. J.R. Hoell, has entered a floor amendment (2016-0909h) which he drafted in January and neglected to submit to the House Education Committee at either the public hearing or executive session for their deliberation and recommendation. It appears likely that HB1414 will be pulled off the Consent Calendar to introduce this amendment. The text of the amendment has been published as follows:

Floor Amendment to HB 1414 (2016-0909h)
Proposed by Reps. Hoell and Itse
Amend the title of the bill by replacing it with the following:
AN ACT relative to home education.
Amend the bill by replacing all after the enacting clause with the following:
1 Home Education; Program Established. Amend RSA 193-A:2 to read as follows:
193-A:2 [Program Established. There is established the home education program to be administered by the
department of education.] Home Education. Parents have a fundamental right to direct the education
of their children.
2 Home Education; Notification and Other Procedural Requirements. Amend the introductory paragraph
in RSA 193-A:5 to read as follows:
193-A:5 Notification and Other Procedural Requirements. A parent may provide home education to a child
or children [at home], subject to the following requirements:
3 Home Education; Authority of School District Officials. Amend RSA 193-A:11 to read as follows:
193-A:11 Authority of School District Officials. No superintendent, school board, school principal, or other
school district official shall propose, adopt, or enforce any policy or procedure [governing] regarding home
educated pupils that is inconsistent with or more restrictive than the provisions of this chapter [and any rules
adopted pursuant to RSA 193-A:3].
4 Repeal. The following are repealed:
I. RSA 193-A:3, department of education rulemaking for home education programs.
II. RSA 193-A:10, relative to the home education advisory council.
5 Effective Date.
I. Paragraph II of section 4 of this act shall take effect July 1, 2022.
II. The remainder of this act shall take effect upon its passage.

IMPLICATIONS:
If the amendment is passed, home education rules which clarify and limit the scope of the law will be eliminated leaving nothing in their place. In six years, all of the other functions currently performed by the Council on behalf of home educators will cease.

WHAT CAN I DO?
Contact your House Representatives http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/wml.aspx to express your support-for or opposition-to the bill.

BACKGROUND:
The Home Education Advisory Council, established by RSA 193-A (home education law), exists to carry out duties assigned to it by the Commissioner of Education, and to advise the Commissioner and State Board of Education about issues facing home educators in New Hampshire.
The Council –

includes representatives of:
homeschooling organizations in New Hampshire; currently NHHC (NH Homeschooling Coalition), CHENH (Christian Home Educators of NH), and CUHE (Catholics United for Home Education) have representatives on the Council
NH Legislature
NH Department of Education
NH School Boards Association
NH School Administrators Association (Superintendents)
NH Association of School Principals
Nonpublic Schools Advisory Council
meets in Concord monthly September through June
establishes common ground and maintains communication between education institutions and home educators
works to find solutions to problems before they escalate to the level of needing hearings, court, or legislative remedies
can hear grievances and make recommendations to the Commissioner
drafts language for Ed 315, Administrative Rules for Home Education, which clarify the details of RSA 193-A and have the force of law. The Council recommends rules changes to the NH Board of Education which approves them.

The Council gives NH homeschoolers a voice at the Department of Education, helps legislators on education committees understand the breadth and depth of home education, and allows us to participate in the rulemaking process. The council is also a way to allow home educators to understand the challenges faced by the state and school district officials who serve us. It provides an effective venue for solving problems that are difficult to solve at the local level.

In 2009 the House Education Committee tried to insert egregious language into RSA 193-A. Those bills were defeated in the legislature due to the action of 1,000+ homeschoolers who showed up at the State House to testify against it. At that point the Chair of the House Education Committee tried to insert the same language into Ed 315. It was due to the watchful eye of Council members that this subversion of the political process was avoided. It is important to note: that legislator is now serving on the NH Board of Education.

CURRENT LEGISLATION:
In the current (2016) legislative session, House Bill 1414 has been introduced which, if passed, would eliminate the Home Education Advisory Council. This bill was introduced by Representative JR Hoell. HB 1414 was introduced to the NH House of Representatives 1/6/2016 and sent to the House Education Committee.

Because the General Court (N. H. Legislature) is currently in the process of updating its web software, and is not posting timely notices or updates to the docket, I will continue to send out email updates as pertinent information becomes available behind the scenes.

~Amy Gall
Coordinator, NH Homeschooling Coalition
Chair, Home Education Advisory Council
(603) 838-5081

Past Legislation

One Time Notification
As of August 12, 2012, f you have been homeschooling and sending in a letter of notification in previous years, you do not need to notify again. If you are homeschooling a new student, or have moved to a different district, you do need to notify. Do note that you need to keep your letter of acknowledgement from the school district or private school (and maybe an extra copy) in a safe place, since you will not be receiving a new letter each year.

Changes in Annual Evaluation
HB1571 removed the requirement to submit the annual evaluation to the “participating agency” and states that the results "(a) May be used to demonstrate the child’s academic proficiency in order to participate in public school programs.
(b) Shall not be used as a basis for termination of a home education program.
(c) Provides a basis for a constructive relationship between the parent and the evaluator, both working together in the best interest of the child."

Some families may still choose to send in an evaluation, and there is the possibility that some non-public schools will ask to have evaluations submitted to them.

What if Your Student Has Graduated Homeschool High School But Is Younger Than Age 18?

If your student has finished high school but is younger than 18, you must certify high school completion with the New Hampshire Department of Education. Send a letter to the Commissioner of Education at the Department of Education. No homeschooling notification or evaluation is required for students enrolled full-time in college (“an accredited post-secondary education program”). We have provided a sample letter.

Home Education Advisory Council

The Home Education Advisory Council (HEAC) meets monthly to discuss homeschooling issues. Advising the NH Board of Education, the HEAC has members who are homeschoolers as well as representatives from the Department of Education, public school administrators, school board members, and a representative of private schools. If you want to be informed of homeschooling issues and lend support to our representatives, attend a meeting. The HEAC meets on the second Thursday of the month, 3:30-5:00, room 15, Department of Education (there are no meetings in July and August). If you have questions about the HEAC, please contact the Chair, Amy Gall, (603) 838-5081, amyginnh@yahoo.com. Check http://www.education.nh.gov/instruction/school_improve/home_ed/heac.htm at the Department of Education website.  Visitors are not allowed to participate in Council discussion unless given special permission.