HEAC Cleaning Up Home Ed Rules

Reposted with permission from School Choice for NH.

The Home Education Advisory Council met again on December 19, 2019. Present were Kitty Michelotti (Chairman, Granite State Home Educators), George D’Orazio (Vice Chairman, Catholics United for Home Education), Mike Koski (NH Association of School Principals), Stefanie Marsh (NH Homeschooling Coalition), Fred Fraser (NH Department of Education, higher education), Ellie Riel (NH Department of Education), Glenn Cordelli (NH House of Representatives), Ruth Ward (NH Senate), and Michelle Levell (Seacoast Christian Home Educators Association), as well as guest and next SCHEA representative, Catie McLaughlin. Amanda Phelps, the NH DOE administrative rules coordinator, joined the meeting a little later.

Sorry, no video available this time.

Ed 315 Rules Revision

In fall 2019, Commissioner Edelblut tasked HEAC with the responsibility of reviewing and revising the education rules that pertain to home education, Ed 315. A subcommittee met multiple times and worked with an attorney from the Department of Education to simplify and restate rules to make them clearer and more consistent with state requirements. These suggested changes were approved by the council in June and returned to the department for their consideration.

This September HEAC was asked to reconsider the changes, to “clean them up further,” to start from the beginning and not approach it as another revision. Again, the purpose is to simplify the rules.

Ed rules have the same force as law, RSA 193-A, so it is critical that they accurately reflect requirements without exceeding statute.

George D’Orazio, as a long-time HEAC member, explained that some portions of rules are included because of past difficulties between families and districts; they give concrete examples to help avoid further problems. There are current situations where districts request more than required in statute. Having clarification in rules seems to carry more authority with districts when these misunderstandings arise. The concern is that technical advisories, while helpful, may be ignored by districts.

This discussion continued when the DOE rules administrator, Amanda Phelps, arrived.

Read more about the proposed rules here:

HEAC Closes Out the School Year

Proposed changes as submitted to the DOE, April 2019

HEAC Addresses Ed 315 and Multiple Long-Standing Issues

HEAC Reviews Rule Changes

Chairman and Representative Reports

Kitty Michelotti reported that Latitude Learning Resources, a new Manchester-based homeschool co-op, is off to a solid start. They have approximately 30 students and third-quarter classes will begin soon.

Stef Marsh presented a question about homeschoolers enrolling in career and technical education programs. Mike Koski was able to provide helpful insight and information. These programs are often over-enrolled, so it is critical for families to contact their local high school’s guidance office a year or so in advance of seeking placement. These programs are also very competitive and have an application process. CTE programs are affiliated with particular districts; a complete list is available here.

Representative Glenn Cordelli and Senator Ruth Ward said they met with a Brentwood parent about the Child Benefit Services available in RSA 189:49 and that the Powerful Parent Network may visit New Hampshire in the coming months.

I mentioned that the 2020 National School Choice Week is January 26 through February 1 and the NH event will be on Thursday, January 30th beginning at 4:00pm at the Double-Tree Hotel in Manchester. This year’s celebration will again feature a variety of educational options across the state – chartered public schools, private schools, and home ed organizations. It will include information tables so families can learn more about these learning environments and connect with them. School Choice for NH is also hosting a discussion with Andrew Campanella, president of School Choice Week, in April. He’ll talk about how families can find the right educational fit for their children as covered in his new book, “The School Choice Roadmap.” Both events are free.

Ed 315 Rules Revision Continued

When Amanda Phelps joined the meeting, she explained that her role is to get the proposed rules through the review process. She said that per Commissioner Edelblut, the Ed 315 proposal “didn’t flow and felt confusing,” so HEAC needs to start from scratch, approach it from the beginning. The rules need to be “bare bones” and only meet but not exceed statute.

Once HEAC approves a revision, it will go to the NH Department of Education, to the state Board of Education, then to the Office of Legislative Services, and then have a public hearing. This may take three months to go through the entire process.

She anticipates the department would write a new technical advisory to accompany the revised rules.

Commissioner Frank Edelblut then joined the meeting and reiterated that HEAC “needs to start from scratch.” He described the current Ed 315 rules as a “patchwork” of revisions that don’t flow or make sense with current requirements. He encouraged particular attention to the notification requirements.

It is HEAC’s intention to vote on the proposal at the next meeting in January; the document is available here. Interested parties are encouraged to reach out to HEAC members with any concerns or questions about the proposed changes.

Additional Issues

Kitty said HEAC is still looking into why families must first register as homeschoolers prior to full-time enrollment at the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS) and the Equal Access statute. These were covered in the October 2019 article, HEAC Back in Session.

The next regular meeting of the Home Education Advisory Council is on Thursday, January 23rd beginning at 3:30pm at the Department of Education offices, 101 Pleasant Street in Concord. The meeting is open to the public and all are welcome to attend.  The contact information of HEAC members can be found here.