Officials must apply the law
In Jacksonville, Florida, the general director of student services declared that the public schools would no longer recognize portfolio evaluations of a child's work if the teacher was not certified in the child's grade level. Home School Legal Defense Association wrote the official, explaining that while the Florida home school law does allow families to choose to have their child's academic progress evaluated by a certified teacher, it does not require that the teacher be certified in the particular grade level of that child. As a result, the director of student services agreed to drop the unnecessary grade-specific certification requirement.
The St. Augustine School District informed an HSLDA member family that they must fill out a "Notification of Intent to Establish Home Education Program" form. This misapplication of the law was corrected after HSLDA wrote the school district, explaining that there was no requirement under Florida law that the family submit a specific form or provide grade levels. One of the many benefits of home schooling, we explained, is the flexibility that enables the parent/teacher to adjust the curriculum to the needs of the child. As a result, the child is not tied to a specific grade level but may work at a variety of grade levels in different subjects. Often, home schooled students are able to excel beyond their "traditional" grade level.
When the same form was sent to a member in Highlands County, HSLDA provided a similar response to the school district.
Anti-parents rights legislation defeated
Two versions of the same "grandparents' rights bill"-Florida House Bill 233 and Senate Bill 106- died this session. Although the name sounds harmless, language in the bill would have dealt a blow to parental rights.
Over the years, HSLDA has represented member families in a number of conflicts with grandparents who did not like home schooling. These grandparents would try to stop the home schooling through various means, including turning the family over to child welfare services. Thankfully, most grandparents we come into contact with support home schooling and, in some situations, even participate in the teaching. However, S.B. 103 and H.B. 233 would have given grandparents and great-grandparents the right to sue parents for visitation rights. If the bill had become law, they could sue "natural parents who are still married to each other" if "either or both parents have used their parental authority to prohibit a relationship between the minor and the grandparents or great-grandparents."
In April, HSLDA sent out an e-lert, asking our members to oppose these bills. Thank you for your many calls to your senators and representatives. Your calls effectively delayed these bills until the session ended. - Christopher J. Klicka