The New Hampshire School Board Association (NHSBA) recently provided a draft of Policy IHBG regarding home education to their member boards. It is likely because the NH Department of Education issued a Technical Advisory in late September reminding SAUs of their legal responsibility in RSA 193-A, the home education law, as dozens of districts did not have an updated policy that reflects the statute’s changes passed in 2012.
The proposed policy is deeply flawed with several problematic components.
GSHE is presenting this information to the Home Education Advisory Council (HEAC) at this afternoon’s meeting.
This is the policy as drafted by NHSBA.
Below is GSHE’s initial analysis. For reference, this is the link to NH’s home education statute, the link to current Ed 315, NH’s rules regarding home education (scroll about half-way down), the link to NH’s compulsory attendance law, and the link to NH’s truancy law.
The opening paragraph references that a parent or guardian may establish a home education program for a child between the ages of 6 and 18. Compulsory attendance, per RSA 193:1, applies for children who are at least 6 years of age as of September 30th of the current school year and under age 18.
A.1 and 2. Families have 5 days to notify their SAU if they are withdrawing or intend to home educate their children per RSA 193-A:5. They do not need to notify on or before withdrawing their children or beginning a home ed program. Truancy is defined in RSA 189:35-a as 10 half days of unexcused absences during a school year. The draft policy is misquoting Ed 315.04; it says notification is due within 5 days, which is consistent with home education and truancy laws. The NHSBA template policy also does not note that Participating Agencies are required to provide an acknowledgement letter within 14 days of receiving a family's home ed notification.
A.3. RSA 193-A:5 clearly says notification is due when parents begin a program; a reference to Ed 315 is unnecessary and should refer to statute upon which the rules are based.
C. The home education portfolio remains the private property of the family per Ed 315.06(b).
D. The policy should be nondiscriminatory and consistent with the process for accepting transfer credits from other in-coming students and educational institutions.
E. Students who are currently enrolled in the district and were previously home educated, should be held to the same graduation requirements as other current students, not something more or different. That is not clear as written.
F. RSA 193:1-c defines co-curricular and this has been an area of difficulty for homeschoolers for many years.
We recommend that families read the NHSBA’s policy and compare it to home ed statute for themselves and consider contacting their local school board if they are considering adopting this flawed version of Policy IHBG.
By Michelle Levell