Over the summer, the Department of Education reviewed the home education statutes and rules in their preparation of a technical advisory regarding Participating Agencies. We alerted the department to widespread misunderstandings of districts and private schools regarding home education reporting requirements. This problem was exacerbated by sample policies provided by the NH School Board Association to their member boards which we reported to the Home Education Advisory Council (HEAC) in May.
The department’s technical advisory clarifies that schools – both public and private – cannot demand more of homeschoolers than required in statutes, RSA 193-A. It also reiterates that families are required to provide one-time notification, not annual, and year-end assessments may be kept private and not submitted to their Participating Agencies. The department also published a Letter of Intent form that families may use when they begin their home ed program.
The Commissioner asked HEAC to re-examine the rules governing home education, Ed 315 (scroll approximately half-way down), because the department believes there are several inconsistencies with existing statutes. These rules have the same force as law for NH homeschoolers, so this is very important.
Richard Sala, legal counsel to the Department of Education, gave a brief presentation to HEAC at their November meeting. He did not make specific references or recommendations, but broadly indicated there are many areas that need attention. According to Mr. Sala, the department would like to see the rules simplified and “give as much latitude as possible” to home education families. He already presented the issue to the state Board of Education and indicated they are open to receiving recommendations HEAC may put forward in 2019.
HEAC members George D’Orazio (Chairman, Catholics United for Home Education), Cara Barlow (Secretary, Unschooling NH), Jennifer Pereira (Catholics United for Home Education), Michael Koski (NH Association of School Principals), and Helen Rist (NH School Administrators Association) are the representatives serving on this subcommittee.
HEAC meets every other month from September to May. Their next scheduled meeting is Thursday, January 24th, from 3:30pm to 5:00pm at the Department of Education building, 101 Pleasant Street in Concord. The public is welcome to attend.
UPDATE 12/11/2018: The subcommittee will meet at the Derry Public Library at 64 East Broadway, on Wednesday, December 12th at 2:30pm. The public may attend.