Here is additional information for private schools that may wish to offer Participating Agency services to the homeschool community.
Home education is largely controlled by RSA 193-A and rule Ed 315 in New Hampshire, and the requirements for non-public schools serving as Participating Agencies is limited to receiving and acknowledging letters establishing the home education program, maintaining a list of these students through completion, transfer or termination of the program, and reporting the count of home educated students to the Department of Education each October. The law limits liability on Participating Agencies to reflect that they are record keepers, not schools of record.
In October 2018, the state Department of Education issued a technical advisory clarifying the Participating Agency role and reporting requirement for home education programs.
In order to establish a home education program, the parent must provide the child's name, address and date of birth along with the parent's address(es) and daytime phone numbers to the Participating Agency within 5 days of beginning the program. Assuming this information is complete, the Participating Agency must send a letter acknowledging receipt within 14 calendar days. The Participating Agency would then add this student or students, as a letter can include more than one child, to their list of home education programs pursuant to Ed 315.05. This list contains the name, date of birth, and address for each child for whom a home education program is established. Once established, these programs remain in effect until terminated by the parent, transferred, or completed with notification to the Department of Education. As this information is collected statewide on children aged 6 to 18, it seems logical to treat students as completing their program at the age of 18 unless otherwise notified.
The parents have further obligations with respect to providing and documenting the home education program, however unless the parent solicits input or access from the Participating Agency, no part of this ongoing administration is required of the Participating Agency. RSA 193-A:9 explicitly limits the liability of Participating Agencies while RSA 193-A:11 prevents Participating Agencies from "proposing, adopting, or enforcing any policy or procedure governing home educated pupils that is inconsistent with or more restrictive than the provisions of this chapter and any rules adopted pursuant to RSA 193-A:3." This established a narrow band of responsibility for the Participating Agency, however it does not prevent additional voluntary relationships.
Many home educated students participate in extra-curricular activities offered by public or private schools. Some choose to take state evaluations alongside their traditionally schooled peers (the State requires parents to provide sufficient notice if they would like to do this) or to do portfolio reviews through the school. As a non-public school, you are under no obligation to provide these opportunities however they could help to build a stronger relationship between your students and their home schooled peers. Smaller schools may benefit from having a larger pool of musicians, artists, athletes, or drama students.
Required information to establish home education program (RSA 193-A & Ed 315)
- Date home education program established
- Child's name
- Child's address
- Child's date of birth
- Parent's address
- Parent's daytime phone number
If all information is complete, the Participating Agency has 14 calendar days to send a letter acknowledging receipt. If any information is missing, the Participating Agency has 10 business days to request more information via certified mail from the parent, and the parent has 10 calendar days from receipt of the letter to reply. This process can repeat, if necessary or can progress to a grievance committee hearing. (Perhaps in the case of a missing parent.)
Termination of home education program (RSA 193-A & Ed 315)
A home education program established in accordance with these rules shall remain in effect unless terminated. (This is presumably only through age 18.) A parent can transfer the home education program to a different participating agency by notifying both the new and old participating agencies in writing, and the old participating agency shall transfer all pertinent records to the new participating agency. If a home education program is terminating in order to transfer to a public or non-public school, the parent must notify the participating agency within 15 days of terminating the home education program. Finally, if the student completes the home school program at the high school level, pursuant to RSA 193:1,I(f)(2,), the student shall be determined to have met the requirements for a successful completion of a home school program for a child under 18 years of age. In order to certify completion before the age of 18, the parent must send a letter to the department of education certifying all requirements and including the name and address of the child and parents, the date of completion of the program, the daytime phone number of the parent, and the parent's signature.
Parents are required to notify their participating agency if they change participating agencies or if they return to public or non-public school. Otherwise the student is assumed to continue the home education program until their 18th birthday (the end of compulsory attendance) or a certification of completion is mailed to the department of education. It would be good form for parents to also notify their participating agency if their child successfully completes their high school education before the age of 18.
Ed 315.05 Duties of Participating Agencies.
Resident district superintendents or nonpublic school principals as participating agencies shall maintain a list of all home education programs for which they have received notification. This list shall contain the name, date of birth and address of each child for whom a home education program is established. On October 1 of each year, the participating agency shall notify the commissioner of the number of children for whom programs were established.
RSA 193-A:9 Liability Limited.
The resident school district, the board of such district, and any employees of the resident school district associated with a child who is or has been receiving home education are not liable in damages in a civil action for any injury, death or loss to person or property allegedly sustained by that child, the child's parent, or any other person as a result of the child's receipt of home education, including but not limited to, any liability allegedly based on the failure of the child to receive a free appropriate or adequate public education.
RSA 193-A:11 Authority of School District Officials.
No superintendent, school board, school principal, or other school district official shall propose, adopt, or enforce any policy or procedure governing home educated pupils that is inconsistent with or more restrictive than the provisions of this chapter and any rules adopted pursuant to RSA 193-A:3.