The Home Education Advisory Council (HEAC) met on January 23, 2020; present were Kitty Michelotti (Chairman, Granite State Home Educators), George D’Orazio (Vice Chairman, Catholics United for Home Education), Jennifer Pereira (Catholics United for Home Education), Stefanie Marsh (NH Homeschooling Coalition), Senator Ruth Ward, and Michelle Levell (Seacoast Christian Home Educators Association). A quorum was not present so no motions could be made.
Ed 315 Changes
In fall 2018, the Commissioner of Education directed HEAC to review Ed 315 (scroll about half-way down the page), the rules that govern home education. The rules are intended to help clarify home education law, RSA 193-A, and cannot exceed it. In the Commissioner’s view, existing rules are too specific and need to be trimmed to reflect current statute, that the council needs to review the rules with a holistic view.
HEAC worked throughout last year to prepare a proposal which was presented to the Department of Education last June. This September, the DOE asked the council to clean up the rules further, to start from the beginning with a fresh approach, and work with the department’s rules administrator, Amanda Phelps, on the draft.
The council started a very detailed review of the rules draft, and decided the subcommittee will meet again, possibly on February 4th, to continue the work ahead of the next HEAC meeting. Homeschoolers are encouraged to review the Ed 315 draft and contact council members with any questions or comments.
Cara Potter resigned from HEAC as the Unschooling NH representative and secretary; a replacement is needed.
The council discussed the ongoing concerns about families needing to file as homeschoolers during the “trail period” the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS) requires before enrolling full-time. The school cannot serve as a participating agency for these families as state law specifies three options: district public schools, private schools, and the Department of Education. Other states do not require families to file as homeschoolers to avoid truancy concerns when transitioning to the state-run online school. This will require additional consideration and communications with VLACS and the DOE.
Stef Marsh mentioned a situation with a family that needs additional documentation for social security benefits for a child who is over 18 years old and not graduated from their home ed program. The recommendation is for the family to file annual notification with their Participating Agency and receive the acknowledgement letter which may then be submitted with a copy of NH’s home education law to the social security administration.
HEAC’s next regular meeting is on Thursday, March 26th 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 council has a place-holder meeting on February 27th, if it is needed. The contact information of HEAC members can be found here.
Read more about HEAC’s recent work.
written by Michelle Levell, GSHE co-founder