Join us to SUPPORT House Bill 1650 that would level the playing field for homeschoolers facing truancy and educational neglect charges.
Homeschooling is neither abuse nor neglect and should not be investigated as such.
The bill will have a public hearing in the House Child & Family Law Committee on Tuesday, January 30th at 2:00pm in room 206 of the Legislative Office Building (LOB), the building, the building immediately behind the State House. The address is 33 N State Street in Concord. There is on-street parking and a nearby parking garage. There is a Facebook event for the hearing.
Please consider testifying before the committee. Personal stories are most effective. If you are unable to attend, call committee members and indicate if you are a constituent. It is also helpful to email the entire committee; their group email is CFL@leg.state.nh.us.
HB 1650 is a simple bill that removes education as a component of neglect and responsibility of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). As written, educational neglect can unfairly target home-educating families. Under existing law, RSA 169-C, who else in addition to homeschoolers could be charged with educational neglect? Would a family with a child enrolled in a public school be charged with educational neglect? Would a private school family be investigated? Likely not. If the child was not in school, it is considered truancy which is handled by the state DOE and local SAU offices, and the presumption is that public and private schools provide a satisfactory education. Primarily homeschooling families would need to prove the quality of their educational program.
If HB 1650 becomes law, concerns about homeschool education would default to truancy investigations under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Education. Individual families would have the opportunity to provide evidence that they satisfy NH’s compulsory attendance laws per RSA 193-A. It takes away a big fear home-educating families face – that their children could be removed from their home by DCYF. It allows DCYF to focus on higher priority investigations. The bill also removes education-only investigations from DCYF which is poorly equipped or trained to evaluate education concerns, and places it in the hands of the state DOE.
Further, it places homeschoolers on a level playing field with families who choose public or private schools. Finally, if a home-educating family is investigated for educational neglect beyond truancy concerns, current statute requires them to maintain the Letter of Intent acknowledgement letter from their Participating Agency, reading log, work samples, and year-end assessment which provides evidence against such charges.
This bill does not alter investigations that go beyond educational concerns.