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Pennsylvania

December 11, 2006

House Bill 280: An Act Revising the Home Instruction Statute

Authors:
Representatives Haluska, Thomas, Argall, Caltagirone, Daley, Goodman, Grucela, Hershey, W. Keller, McGeehan, Pallone, Pistella, Preston, Reed, Scavello, Solobay, Walko, Wojnarowski, and Younglbood

Summary:
This bill was amended to include the provisions of House Bill 505. Section 2 of this bill would have removed superintendents from reviewing portfolios in home education programs to determine whether the student was receiving an appropriate education. Instead, the parent would submit to the superintendent the written evaluation from a qualified evaluator.

This bill would also have provided for an administrative procedure to resolve questions about the parent's compliance with the laws.

Status:

02/08/2005Introduced and Referred to Education Committee
07/01/2005Reported as amended and first consideration, referred to Rules Committee
09/26/2005Re-reported as committed
10/31/2005Second consideration, referred to the Appropriations Committee, re-reported as committed
11/01/2005Third consideration with amendments and final passage in the House.
11/15/2005Sent to Senate and Referred to Education Committee.
11/28/2006 This bill died when the Legislature adjourned.

HSLDA's Position:
HSLDA strongly supported this legislation.

Action Requested:
None at this time.

Background:
In 1998 the General Assembly of Pennsylvania enacted a new home education statute, Section 13-1327.1 of the Pennsylvania Statutes Annotated. This legislation was prompted by a federal court decision that same year declaring the compulsory school attendance statute unconstitutional for vagueness. HSLDA represented the plaintiff in that case challenging the constitutionality of the state law. The compulsory attendance law, Section. 13-1327, permitted home schooling by a "properly qualified" private tutor if the instruction was "satisfactory" to the local public school superintendent. With 501 school districts in Pennsylvania, each with its own standards for who was properly qualified to teach and what was considered satisfactory instruction, there was no objective standard parents could rely upon in complying with state law.

By enacting the home education statute in 1988, the General Assembly addressed the vagueness issues of the compulsory attendance statute, but Pennsylvania also became one of the most highly regulated states in the nation. Only New York, which also adopted its home instruction law in 1988, has more state oversight of home education than Pennsylvania.

After 17 years of demonstrating success under an unnecessarily restrictive law, home educators in Pennsylvania have earned the right to less state oversight.

 Other Resources

Bill Text    (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Bill History