The Home School Court Report
VOLUME XVIII, NUMBER 3
- disclaimer -
MAY / JUNE 2002
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In the hands of providence

From pickup trucks and shotgun racks to a new attitude

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Freedom watch

A Contrario Sensu

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F.Y.I
HSLDA social services contact policy

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Connecticut
Legislature considers threatening home school bill

Raised House Bill 5535 would change Connecticut from one of the least restrictive states for home schooling to one of the most restrictive. It would do away with the favorable guidelines under which home educators have operated since 1990 and impose burdensome statutory requirements on parents. The restrictions proposed by H.B. 5535 include the following:

  • An annual notice of intent to home school must be filed with the superintendent of schools within 10 days after the start of instruction.

  • The notice must include the name of the person providing instruction and proof that the instructor has a high school diploma or its equivalent, a description of the subjects taught and the materials used, a schedule of instruction that consists of a minimum 900 hours per calendar year, and an independent method of assessment of the child's academic performance, as approved by the commissioner of education.

  • The superintendent must evaluate the notice for completeness and maintain the notice as part of the school district's permanent records.

  • The superintendent must review the results of an independent method of assessment of the child's academic performance or conduct a portfolio session with the parent. A portfolio session must display evidence of compliance with the instruction program described in the notice of intent.

  • The superintendent must send a letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, to any parent filing an incomplete notice or to any parent failing to file a required notice. Any child whose parent fails to comply with the notice requirements or any other provisions of the new law will be considered truant.

  • Each school district would be required to annually report the number of home schoolers to the Connecticut Department of Education.

    Approximately 1,000 home schooling parents and their children attended a Joint Committee on Education hearing on March 4, 2002, to express their opposition to H.B. 5535. Subsequent meetings between key legislators and home school leaders, including The Education Association of Christian Homeschoolers (TEACH), produced an agreement that this bill would die without further committee consideration.

    During discussions with Representative Cameron Staples, co-chair of the committee, he expressed desire that more home schooling families follow the voluntary guidelines. In return, home school leaders agreed to recommend compliance with the guidelines to their support groups. The guidelines provide notice to the local school district of the parent's intent to conduct home instruction and a portfolio review at the end of the school year for the limited purpose of showing that instruction has been offered in the required subjects. HSLDA was involved in development of the guidelines by the Connecticut State Department of Education in 1990 and has always recommended that our member families follow them. According to Representative Staples, increased compliance with the guidelines would likely ward off any effort in the future to pass restrictive legislation.

    - Dewitt T. Black