Legal Contacts September/October 2000
|Home School Law||102|
February thru September
Commissioner Rejects Proposed Changes
New York State Commissioner of Education Richard P. Mills has rejected proposed amendments to the current home instruction regulation as communicated to him by Senator John R. Kuhl, Jr., chairman of the state senate education committee.
In letters to Senator Kuhl dated May 24, July 28, and August 31, 2000, Commissioner Mills expressed his opposition to all of the changes recommended by Senator Kuhl. Mills went on to say that, I believe fundamental changes in this system should only be undertaken after careful study, with input from all affected constituencies, and in the context of implementing higher learning standards for all students.
Senator Kuhl, in a letter to Commissioner Mills dated May 3, 2000, had recommended the following changes to the current home instruction regulation:
- eliminating the double notice requirement so that parents would not have to provide both the initial notice of intent to conduct home instruction and an Individualized Home Instruction Plan;
- eliminating quarterly reports;
- permitting parents to utilize an alternative form of assessment at every grade level instead of standardized testing in certain grades;
- eliminating the requirement that parents submit results of the annual assessment to the local public school superintendent; and
- eliminating the requirement that the local superintendent consent to the person conducting the annual assessment.
These proposals, in addition to special education reform, had been submitted to Senator Kuhl by New York State home school leaders.
One of the reasons cited by Commissioner Mills in formulating his opinion that the home instruction regulation should not be amended was that he had received a number of letters from home instructing parents opposing any attempts to revisit or revise the home instruction regulations. Apparently, at least some home educators in New York are content to teach their children under the most restrictive law in the nation.
Senator Kuhl has indicated a willingness to sponsor legislation that would implement changes advocated by the great majority of parents teaching their children at home. However, with home schooling community divided, passage of such legislation will be difficult at best. Home School Legal Defense Association will continue to work with home school leaders in New York towards a less restrictive law. Dewitt T. Black