Home School Court Report
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November / December 2005

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The history and future of 08 schools

Most Ohio parents teach their children at home pursuant to the state's homeschool regulations, which permit any parent to educate at home. Only parents with a bachelor's degree and sincere religious objections to government control of their school can operate a "non-chartered, non-tax supported school," another option for educating children at home in the Buckeye State. Ohio Administrative Code 3301-35-08 outlines the requirements for such schools, which are generally known as "08 schools" because they are governed by chapter 08 of the regulations.

These 08 schools have a distinguished history. In the late 1950s, the Ohio State Board of Education established a set of minimum standards which all schools had to meet. This was not a problem at first, but by the 1970s some Christian school administrators began to object to the new state standards. This resulted in legislation, and Christian schools eventually won the case Ohio v. Whisner in 1976. In 1983, the state board enacted chapter 08 (OAC 3301-35-08) to make it possible to operate a non-chartered, non-tax supported school with a minimum of government oversight. Over the next few years, a number of Christian parents with bachelordegrees relied on the 08 school regulations to operate a legal school in their own home. This worked well for many families. Finally, in 1989, homeschoolers were able to convince the state board of education to enact regulations specifically permitting parents to educate a child at home.

Home School Legal Defense Association has steadfastly insisted that parents who meet the standards of 08 schools can choose this option. However, the option became much more controversial when some parents began to establish 08 schools as a means to claim public funding under the Post Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO) program. While it is technically possible for a parent to have religious objections to seeking a public charter and no religious objections to seeking public funding, it does raise very real concerns.

According to Ohio Department of Education figures, almost 10,000 public school students participated in the PSEO program in 2004-2005. Over 1,000 non-public school students participated. A total of 192 non-chartered, non-tax supported school students took advantage of this program. Not all of these students were educated at home, of course. Thus it is safe to conclude that well under 1 percent of the PSEO students in Ohio were educated in their own homes. Some homeschoolers are concerned, based on reliable information, that the department of education could tighten the regulations for eligibility for 08 schools because of their concern that too many people are taking advantage of PSEO money.

HSLDA believes the 08 school option is vital to educational freedom in Ohio, and needs to be preserved. We are committed to defending families who choose the 08 option based on their religious convictions. However, HSLDA believes that if 08 schools seek public funds for college courses, the inevitable result will be more regulation and governmental controls on all such schools.

We continue to support the right of parents to choose what is best for their own children, but will not fight for the right to do so at public expense.

— by Scott W. Somerville