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Department of education demands hearings

Vermont law requires families who provide their children with home instruction to supply certain information to the state. When parents begin home schooling a child "not previously enrolled in a Vermont public school," they must submit "independent professional evidence on whether the child is handicapped."

Two Home School Legal Defense Association member families fitting this criteria filed their enrollment notices with the Vermont Department of Education, including the necessary statements from professionals that the children do not have handicapping conditions.

However, the state rejected the enrollments, demanding far more detail than legally required. The rejection letters to the families stated:

Absent information about how this individual arrived at this conclusion, the dates that the children were seen, and the extent of his or her contact with children, the Department cannot conclude that there is independent professional evidence of the lack of handicapping conditions.

Although HSLDA explained that state law simply requires an indication from a professional regarding handicaps or lack thereof, the department didn't accept this. Instead the Commissioner of Education invoked a section of the statute allowing him to call a hearing.

HSLDA believes that the law requires families to provide evidence regarding handicapping conditions, not detail regarding the screening method used by the professional. We are representing our two member families and

will challenge the department's demand for such information.

- Scott A. Woodruff