The Home Education Advisory Council (HEAC) met for the first time this session on November 18th with current members present: Jennifer Pereira (Catholics United for Home Education NH), Amanda Weeden (Granite State Home Educators), Catie McLaughlin (Christian Home Educators of NH and Southern ME), Michael Koski (NH Association of School Principals), Representative Barbara Shaw, and Shireen Meskoob (NH DOE). Several members of the public attended, including Michelle Levell (Granite State Home Educators). Representative Glenn Cordelli and Senator Ruth Ward were absent.
Although a quorum was satisfied, there were several positions vacant, so the council had limited discussion pending the Commissioner’s appointments expected, and then announced, in early December. The new members are as follows: Allison O’Neil (Hampton Area Homeschool Group), Althea Barton (NH Homeschooling Coalition), April Villani (Catholics United for Home Education NH), Heather Barker (NH School Administrators Association), and Sarah Cheek (Acton Academy Seacoast). There are vacancies remaining for the NH School Boards Association and the Nonpublic School Advisory Council.
Jennifer (CUHE) stated that the council’s concerns about Prenda community pods falling under home education that were addressed to the DOE back in June did not receive a response at this time.
The only organization to provide a report was GSHE and Amanda shared several areas of concern. She reported that several member families have reported difficulties using the education tax credit scholarship awards that are now managed through Class Wallet, an intermediary agent that handles transactions. Amanda also expressed concerns about particular language in the Education Freedom Account (EFA) handbook as it concerns termination of a home education program and withdrawing from the program.
I asked Shireen (NH DOE) about the department’s enrollment data collection process and confirmed that for home education numbers, they ask Participating Agencies to report the number of new notifications filed with them by October 1 of each year. This is consistent with what we’ve reported previously and is different from the data districts, chartered public schools, and private schools report for their enrollment which is a total enrollment, not limited to new students. The 2021 enrollment is expected to be released sometime in mid December. The 2020 home education enrollment more than doubled from 2019 and we expect another significant number of new homeschoolers reported for this current year.
Now that more members are appointed, we hope the council will have the opportunity to address several areas of concern:
- Prenda’s community pod status as home education
- The new EFA program confusion with home education
- Basis for awarding credits as homeschoolers transfer to public schools
- VLACS informs families that full-time enrollment for K-5 is homeschooling
The council will meet on Thursday, December 16th starting at 3:30pm. They will be in-person, and the public is welcome to attend, or participate via Zoom.
Due to construction at the DOE main office in Londergan Hall, the council will meet at the department’s Walker Building office at 21 South Fruit Street, room 100, in Concord for the next few months. HEAC’s meetings are from 3:30pm to 5:00pm as scheduled below. The general public is welcome to attend; the NH DOE's HEAC webpage includes the link, meeting ID, and passcode information.
January 20, 2022
February 17, 2022 (placeholder)
March 17, 2022
April 21, 2022 (placeholder)
May 19, 2022
June 16, 2022 (placeholder)
Links to meeting minutes and members’ contact information are available on the NH DOE’s HEAC page.
Read More About HEAC
By Michelle Levell