Across the States
Homeschoolers’ Input Improves Warwick Policy
On January 9, 2007, the Warwick School Committee adopted a new homeschool policy that is far more parent-friendly than the previous one. Here are the major changes:
- Diminished role of superintendent: The old policy allowed the superintendent to reject a homeschool plan. Under the new policy, his role is simply to make a recommendation.
- Increased role of school committee: The old policy allowed the chairperson of the school committee to reject a homeschool plan. Under the new policy, only the school committee can reject a plan. The chairperson can accept a plan, however.
- Contract-like “agreement” abolished: According to the old policy, parents had to sign an agreement that they would homeschool according to state law. The new policy requires that they simply submit a “letter of intent” to homeschool.
- Partial improvement on progress reports: Under the old policy, the district did not acknowledge a parent’s preference as to the type of progress report they submitted. The new policy specifically states that the parent’s preference will be respected. Regrettably, the new policy fails to reduce the number of progress reports from two to one per year, as homeschoolers had requested. Home School Legal Defense Association will continue to look for an opportunity to abolish this unjustifiable requirement of two reports.
- New restrictions blocked: The old policy made no promises that administrative officials would not create new burdens or restrictions on homeschool families. The new policy clearly provides this protection.
- Limited authority to demand
attendance records: The old policy appeared to give administrators unlimited power to demand attendance records at will, and it required parents to use a form developed by administrators. The new policy specifies that attendance records are to be submitted twice annually, in January and July. It also gives parents the freedom to use the format of their choice for the reports.
- Authority to make content demands abolished: Under the old policy, an administrator could demand that families teach particular content in their homeschool program; in fact, one administrator had demanded that homeschool programs include the state content standards. The new policy gives families full freedom to choose the content taught within the required subjects; they are only required to list the title, author, and publisher of the books to be used.
These improvements are the result of a tremendous amount of work and input from homeschoolers, aided by Warwick School Committee member Joyce Andrade, herself a homeschool mom. Our thanks go to Mrs. Andrade and to all the other homeschool moms and dads who were a part of this process. HSLDA would also like to salute the families who stood for what was right and resisted improper demands under the old policy, even when they might have been faced with prosecution.
— by Scott A. Woodruff