HEAC Considers Changes to Rules and Creating Council Policies

The Home Education Advisory Council (HEAC) met on January 20, 2023. Present were Michael Koski (Christian Home Educators NH/Southern ME), Jen Pereira (Catholics United for Home Education), April Villani (Catholics United for Home Education), Michelle Levell (Granite State Home Educators), Tim Carney (Department of Education), Althea Barton (NH Homeschooling Coalition), Senator Ruth Ward, and Rep Glenn Cordelli. The video is available here. Due to technical difficulties, the meeting started a little late at roughly 17:00 into the video and some audio is difficult to hear. The DOE intends to have that worked out for the next meeting.

The first order of business was to elect officers for the balance of this year’s meetings. Mike is Chairman, April is Vice-Chairman, and Althea is Secretary.


HiSET Rules, Ed 704.02 (video begins at 27:00)

Sarah Wheeler from the department’s adult education division shared a draft version of Ed 704.02 regarding under-age homeschoolers’ eligibility to take the exam. Although not required, the department offered HEAC the opportunity to comment. GSHE brought it to the council’s attention in spring 2022 that the current rules are inconsistent with several other laws and rules by requiring permission from the student’s Participating Agency to take the test.

Michelle recommended removing the statement that the parents must attest that the student completed the equivalency of high school. Sarah wondered if there is a process to keep track of the student. Jen added that graduating closes off other opportunities to teens, including dual enrollment programs. Sarah said that the HiSET still allows the student to earn a diploma, if desired. Michelle stated that Ed 315, the home education rules, already includes notification, so if the family intends to use the HiSET to complete high school, rules require notification to the department. With that concern addressed, Sarah was amenable to the suggestion. April requested that the council have an opportunity to see the final proposed language.


HEAC Considers Policies (video begins at 55:45)

For some time, the council has discussed several issues regarding policies. Among the topics under consideration are when the council meets, requiring a prior vote on annual reports that are presented to the state Board of Education, allowing members to attend remotely, keeping recordings of the remote meetings, and other practices. The DOE attorney, Elizabeth Brown, emphasized accountability and transparency, and encouraged the council to act on shared principles. She suggested keeping policies simple and clear.

At this meeting, Elizabeth gave a presentation about the council’s obligations under NH’s RSA 91-A, commonly referred to as the Right to Know law.

It is the council’s intention to develop a set of policies and best practices to guide current and future members for conducting business. April and Michelle will prepare a draft for consideration.

The pdf of the presentation is available here and discussion begins at 1:24:00 in the video.


Ed 315 Rules Discussion (video begins at 2:05:00)

The home education rules, Ed 315, must be revised due to the passage of HB 1663 in 2022. Providing input to the DOE is one of the specific responsibilities of HEAC, but the council is advisory only and when to share the rules is not established in statute. It is a courtesy for the DOE to share their working document with the council. There is an extensive process for the revision and adoption of education rules, and the public has opportunities to provide input at state BOE meetings and when Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR) considers them.

Tim said that the change noted in 315.04 (a) to remove the resident district superintendent as a Participating Agency was an error and corrected with the DOE’s current draft of the rules.

Jen suggested a correction to 315.02 (d) to mirror the statute to say “age, ability, and/or disability” for educational progress.

Althea and Jen asked about the council’s input in rule revisions and Tim and Elizabeth remarked that if HEAC wants more involvement, it must be more proactive.

Ed 315 will be presented as an initial proposal to the state BOE at their February 9, 2023 meeting and then their April meeting will have a public hearing on the rules; the spring meeting is the opportunity for the public to make comments on Ed 315 proposed rule changes.

Michelle made a motion to have HEAC recommendations reflect the suggestion on Ed 315.02 (d). Seconded by April and approved 5 to 0 with one abstention.

Tim and Liz said that once rules are presented as an initial proposal to the state Board of Education, they will be published in the rule-making register.

Due to time constraints, the meeting did not include a chairman and member reports.


Next Meetings

HEAC meets at the NH DOE’s temporary office at Granite State College, 25 Hall Street, Room 101, in Concord. They meet on the third Friday of alternating months starting at 2:30pm, unless announced otherwise. The public may attend in-person or via Zoom. Zoom meeting information is available here. The 2023 meeting dates are as follows.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Friday, April 21, 2023 (place holder)

Friday, May 19, 2023

Friday, June 16, 2023 (place holder)

Friday, July 21, 2023

Links to meeting minutes and members’ contact information are available on the NH DOE’s HEAC page.


Read More About HEAC

HEAC Grapples with Big Issues

HEAC Starts 2022-23 Year

HEAC Has a Full Plate

HEAC Brings Forward Several Concerns

Meet the 2021-22 HEAC Members

2021 HEAC Gets Started

HEAC 2021-22 Season Kicks-Off

HEAC Considers Recovering Bright Futures Program


By Michelle Levell