Legal News

Hearing on Home Education Bill Thursday, January 25

House bill 1263 which would once again require that homeschoolers’ annual evaluations be submitted to their participating agency (school district or private school) will have a hearing before the House Education Committee on Thursday, January 25, at 1:00, room 207 of the Legislative Office Building behind the State House in Concord. Members of the public will be able to speak and/or submit testimony about the bill at this time. You can read the text of the bill here http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/bill_status/billText.aspx…. To contact House Education Committee members before the hearing to share your opinions, you can use the contact info here http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/…/co…/committeedetails.aspx….

Homeschooling Bill Coming to the New Hampshire State House

Representative Robert Theberge has proposed HB 1263, the text of which follows below.  The bill basically removes the law changes from 2012, and would once again require that homeschoolers submit their evaluations to their participating agencies.  The bill also outlines hearing and appeals procedures.

The bill now goes to the House Education Committee.  They will be scheduling a hearing where members of the public can speak about the bill.  If you’d like to contact them with your thoughts about the bill, you can find the members listed here with links to their contact information.

Text of the bill:

HB 1263 – AS INTRODUCED

2018 SESSION

18-2329

06/04

HOUSE BILL 1263

AN ACT relative to educational evaluation of home schooled children.

SPONSORS: Rep. Theberge, Coos 3; Rep. Y. Thomas, Coos 3; Rep. Laflamme, Coos 3; Rep. Tucker, Coos 5

COMMITTEE: Education

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ANALYSIS

This bill amends the educational evaluation procedures for home educated children and adds notice, hearing, and appeals procedures relative to the termination of a home education program. The bill also clarifies the school district’s limited liability for home educated children.

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

18-2329

06/04

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eighteen

AN ACT relative to educational evaluation of home schooled children.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1  Home Education; Notification.  Amend RSA 193-A:5, IV to read as follows:

  1.  Subject to the provisions of RSA 193-A:7, the commissioner of education, resident district superintendent, or nonpublic school principal shall acknowledge receipt of notification within 14 days of such receipt.

2  Home Education; Records; Evaluation.  Amend RSA 193-A:6 to read as follows:

193-A:6  Records; Evaluation.

  1.  The parent shall maintain a portfolio of records and materials relative to the home education program.  The portfolio shall consist of a log which designates by title the reading materials used, and also samples of writings, worksheets, workbooks, or creative materials used or developed by the child.  Such portfolio shall be preserved by the parent for 2 years from the date of the ending of the instruction.
  2.  The parent shall provide for an annual educational evaluation in which is documented the child’s demonstration of educational progress at a level commensurate with the child’s age and ability.  The child shall be deemed to have successfully completed his annual evaluation upon meeting the requirements of any one of the following:

(a)  A certified teacher or a teacher currently teaching in a nonpublic school who is selected by the parent shall evaluate the child’s educational progress upon review of the portfolio and discussion with the parent or child.  The teacher shall submit a written evaluation to the commissioner of education, resident district superintendent, or nonpublic school principal;

(b)  The child shall take any national student achievement test, administered by a person who meets the qualifications established by the provider or publisher of the test.  Composite results at or above the fortieth percentile on such tests shall be deemed reasonable academic proficiency.  Such test results shall be reported to the commissioner of education, resident district superintendent, or nonpublic school principal;

(c)  The child shall take a state student assessment test used by the resident district.  Composite results at or above the fortieth percentile on such state test shall be deemed reasonable academic proficiency.  Such test results shall be reported to the commissioner of education, resident district superintendent, or nonpublic school principal; or

(d)  The child shall be evaluated using any other valid measurement tool mutually agreed upon by the parent and the commissioner of education, resident district superintendent, or nonpublic school principal.  The results shall be reported by the parent or the testing agency to such appropriate official.

III.  The commissioner of education, resident district superintendent, or nonpublic school principal shall review the results of the annual educational evaluation of the child in a home education program as provided in paragraph II.  If the child does not demonstrate educational progress for age and ability at a level commensurate with his or her ability, the commissioner, superintendent, or principal shall notify the parent, in writing, that such progress has not been achieved.  The parent shall have one year from the date of receipt of the written notification to provide remedial instruction to the child.  At the end of the one-year probationary period, the child shall be reevaluated in a manner as provided in this section.  Continuation in a home education program shall be contingent upon the child demonstrating at the end of the probationary period educational progress commensurate with the child’s age and ability.  The parent of a child who fails to demonstrate such progress at the end of the probationary period shall  be notified by the commissioner that the parent is entitled to a hearing as provided in RSA 193-A:7, I and II and that the program will be terminated absent a finding for continuation pursuant to such hearing.  Upon a finding that the program should be terminated, the child shall be reported by the commissioner or nonpublic school principal to the appropriate resident district superintendent, who shall, if necessary, take appropriate action to ensure that compulsory attendance requirements are met.  [The parent shall maintain a copy of the evaluation.  The results of the evaluation:

(a)  May be used to demonstrate the child’s academic proficiency in order to participate in public school programs, and co-curricular activities which are defined as school district-sponsored and directed athletics, fine arts, and academic activities.  Home educated students shall be subject to the same participation policy and eligibility conditions as apply to public school students.

(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. ]

3  New Section; Home Education; Hearing, Notice, and Procedure.  Amend RSA 193-A by inserting after section 7 the following new section:

193-A:7-a  Hearing, Notice, and Procedure.

  1.  A parent shall be entitled to a due process hearing which shall be conducted by an impartial hearing officer appointed by the commissioner of education.  Notice of such hearing shall be provided within 10 days of the request for such hearing, shall include a brief summary of the material facts, and shall be sent to each parent and each instructor of the child known to the commissioner.  The hearing shall occur within 30 days of the date of such notice.  Upon request, the hearing officer shall conduct the hearing at a location near the site of the home education program.
  2.  In order to terminate a program, the hearing officer shall find at the hearing at least one of the following:

(a)  The parent has failed to comply with the requirements of this chapter; or

(b)  The parent or the home education program has substantially failed to or cannot provide a child with the minimum course of study as required by RSA 193-A:4, I.

4  New Section; Home Education; Order; Appeals.  Amend RSA 193-A by inserting after section 8 the following new section:

193-A:8-a  Order; Appeals.

  1.  Subsequent to a hearing conducted in accordance with RSA 193-A:7, the hearing officer shall enter an order within 10 working days which shall order either the continuance or termination of the home education program under scrutiny.  Such order shall take effect immediately.  A copy shall be given to the appropriate superintendent of schools, who shall, if necessary, take appropriate action to ensure that compulsory attendance requirements are met.
  2.  Following such order, the parent or the commissioner may appeal the decision of the hearing officer to a court of competent jurisdiction.  Said notice of appeal shall be filed within 30 days of such decision by the hearing officer.  Pending appeal, the home education program shall continue.

5  Home Education; Limited Liability.  Amend RSA 193-A:9 to read as follows:

193-A:9  Liability Limited.  The resident school district, the board of such district, and any employees of the resident school district associated with a child who is [or has been] receiving home education in accordance with this chapter, are not liable in damages in a civil action for any injury, death or loss to person or property allegedly sustained by that child, the child’s parent, or any other person as a result of the child’s receipt of home education, including but not limited to, any liability allegedly based on the failure of the child to receive a free appropriate or adequate public education.

6  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect upon its passage.

Remember, the New Hampshire Homeschooling Coalition cannot take a position on legislation.  We are a 501 (c)3 organization and have a wide range of members with varying opinions.

Changes to the Youth Employment Requirements

A New Hampshire Youth Employment Certificate is required for youth under age 16, and they may only perform jobs which are on the approved list. Youth age 16 and 17 do not require an Employment Certificate, and may perform any job which is not disallowed, but they must submit a parental permission form. Anyone under age 18 is subject to restricted work hours, and may not work during the public school day regardless of their method of schooling unless they have graduated high school.

Even though the instructions on the New Hampshire Department of Labor site and the forms available through that site say the certificate will be issued through the school and the form must be submitted through the “school department,” the law has changed, and parents may issue the documents and keep them on file.  If you have any questions about whether or not a job is allowed or disallowed, or any other topic related to youth employment in New Hampshire, please call (603) 271-0127.

Parents authorizing a NH Youth Employment Certificate for their own children should fill out the appropriate form and keep a copy for their records; additionally, one copy must be kept on file by the employer, and one copy should be mailed to:
NH Department of Labor
PO Box 2076
Concord, NH 03302-2076
Supposedly, an official triplicate form may be obtained from the New Hampshire Department of Labor. by contacting them directly.

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 at the Department of Education from 3:30 – 5 p.m. on the second Thursday in September, November, January, March, and May. Established in 1990 by RSA 193-A (the home education law), the HEAC exists to promote an understanding of home education in New Hampshire, to carry out duties assigned to it by the Commissioner of Education, and to advise the Commissioner and State Board of Education on issues concerning home education in New Hampshire.

HEAC includes twelve voting members:
Six members representing homeschooling organizations in New Hampshire; currently NHHC (N.H. Homeschooling Coalition), CHENH (Christian Home Educators of NH), CUHE (Catholics United for Home Education), Unschooling N.H., and Seacoast Christian Home Educators, have representatives on the Council.

Six members representing the N.H. Department of Education (2), N.H. School Boards Association (1), N.H. School Administrators Association (Superintendents) (1), N.H. Association of School Principals (1), and the Nonpublic Schools Advisory Council (1).

There are also three non-voting members, one from the N.H. Senate, and two from the N.H. House.

The Council seeks to establish common ground and maintain communication between educational institutions and home educators, and to find solutions to problems before they escalate to the level of needing judicial or legislative remedies. It recommends, to the State Board of Education, changes to the administrative rules for home education (Ed 315 ). These rules clarify ambiguities in RSA 193-A and have the force of law. The Council can hear grievances referred to it by the Commissioner and make a recommendation.

The Council gives New Hampshire 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 introduced amendments to RSA 193-A that would have expanded the state’s control over homeschooling. Those bills were defeated in the legislature due to the action of 1,000+ homeschoolers who showed up at the State House to testify. The chair of the House Education Committee then tried to insert the same language into Ed 315. Alert Council members helped prevent this misuse of the rulemaking process.

If you want to be informed of homeschooling issues and lend support to our representatives, please attend a meeting. When visitors are present there is a public comment period. When asked by the chair, visitors may participate in Council discussions. If you have questions about the HEAC, please feel free to contact the chairman, George D’Orazio, (603)623-3377,  geolindor@gmail.com. You can also check the Department of Education website at http://www.education.nh.gov/instruction/school_improve/home_ed/heac.htm