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Committee to study home schooling

On July 30, 2001, Governor Ruth Ann Minner signed Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 9, creating a committee to study home schooling in Delaware over the next seven months. According to the resolution, the committee's three-fold purpose is (1) to consider reporting requirements to the Delaware Department of Education, (2) to define non-public schools, and (3) to consider "many situations that deviate from the traditional homeschool setting that may require compliance with existing health and safety standards for children in these settings."

The eight members of the committee will include:

  • the secretary of the department of education or his designee;
  • the secretary of the department of health and social services or his designee [DHSS];
  • a representative of the childcare licensing section of the department of services for children, youth and their families [DSCYF];
  • two representatives of the home school community appointed by the governor;
  • a representative of the Delaware Association of Independent Schools appointed by the governor;
  • one member of the Senate;
  • and one member of the House of Representatives.

The committee must report its findings by March 1, 2002.

Creation of the committee followed the department of education's unsuccessful effort to change how home schools report enrollment and attendance. That effort, Senate Bill 165, would have removed home schools from the category of private schools and possibly subjected home schools to whatever reporting requirements the department of education prescribed. Due to effective lobbying efforts of the Delaware Home Educators Association, this bill was placed on hold in the Senate Education Committee.

The SJR 9 committee's study is both an opportunity and a challenge. It is an opportunity to clarify that home schools in Delaware are private schools, which is how they have operated since the revival of home schooling in the early 1980's. It is a challenge to limit the reporting requirements for home schools to enrollment and attendance information, the same information required of other private schools.

Given the participation of DHSS and DSCYF on this committee, home school representatives should be alert to and vigorously oppose inevitable recommendations to involve these state agencies in home education.

Home School Legal Defense Association encourages Delaware members to ask their legislators to preserve the status of home schools as private schools and to defeat any effort to involve social services in the lives of home schooling families.

- Dewitt T. Black