HB 545 Signed by the Governor, HB 1571 Allowed to Pass
HB545 has been signed by the governor. This is the one time notification bill, and and will take effect on August 12. If you have been homeschooling and sending in a letter of notification in past years, you do not need to notify again this year. 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.
HB 1571 was allowed to pass without the governor's signature. Therefore evaluations do not need to be turned in to your participating agency (school district or non-public school), effective immediately.
HB1571 removes 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." The text of the bill can be found here
HB545 requires only "one-time" notification for homeschooling. It also states that the Home Education Advisory Council will have an opportunity to review and comment on proposed rules, and it makes the three legislative members of the Council non-voting members. Half of the Council's voting membership is made up of homeschooling parents. You can read the text of the amended bill at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2012/HB0545.html.
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.
Drivers Ed Bill Sent to Interim Study
Jacqueline Roland has been working on a bill (HB1440) that would allow online driver education in New Hampshire. Although the New Hampshire Homeschooling Coalition takes no position on legislation, we know that this alternative is of interest to many New Hampshire homeschoolers. The bill passed the New Hampshire House of Representatives but was tabled by the Senate. Read more on the website
http://driveredbill.com/supporters-of-hb-1440. Contact Jacqueline at 847-9070.
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.
These changes are due to Senate Bill 18 which raised the age of compulsory attendance to 18.
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 Tuesday of the month, 3:30-5:00, room 15, Department of Education. Contact Abbey Lawrence for more info, 539-7233. Also check http://www.education.nh.gov/instruction/school_improve/home_ed/heac.htm at the Department of Education website. You will not be allowed to participate in Council discussion unless given special permission.
Report of the Home Education Advisory Council, November 2012
Meeting with the Superintendents
Mike Compitello and I were invited to attend the monthly Commissioner's meeting with the superintendents on Friday, October 26, to discuss recent changes to the homeschooling law. The DOE sent a technical advisory to all districts in June informing them of the changes, but we had heard reports of some confusion over notification, and we hoped to prevent problems over evaluations in the spring.
One superintendent asked--and I could see that others shared his concern--how districts are to report the number of homeschoolers now that notification is a one-time requirement. I said they could assume that a program, once established, continues each year, but of course if a family moves or enrolls a student in a private school without informing the district, statistics will become less reliable.
Another superintendent asked about grade placement and expressed dismay for the diminished oversight of homeschoolers, now that evaluations need not be submitted to the participating agency; they may still be used to determine a student's academic eligibility for curricular and co-curricular programs. She stated that she has seen students homeschooled through eighth grade enter high school unprepared. Not only does remedial work cost districts time and money, she anticipates anger and opposition from parents if a student is not placed at the grade level they expect.
In the light of this concern with homeschoolers, it was interesting to read in the October 28 Sunday News that parents in the Manchester school district are concerned over inadequate preparation of students in the elementary and middle schools for high school work; nearly a third of the freshman at Central High last year failed algebra.
It's probably overly optimistic to hope that we might be able to make all the needed changes to the rules at one meeting, but we'll do our best. If you have any suggestions or concerns, feel free to get in touch with me, or any Council member.