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2007 Legislative Wrap-Up

During the 2007 legislative session in North Dakota, Home School Legal Defense Association tracked a number of bills affecting the rights of parents who educate their children at home.

As reported in the May/June 2007 Court Report, Senate Bill 2371, which started out as a good bill for homeschoolers, ended up being a bad bill. As originally introduced, S.B. 2371 would have changed the law to permit grandparents and foster parents to homeschool, to clarify that homeschooled students only have to take the basic battery of standardized tests, and to permit parents to choose a test that was not nationally normed. As amended by the House Education Committee, the bill would not have permitted grandparents to homeschool and it would have added even more restrictions to state law. Fortunately, due to the outcry of homeschoolers objecting to the unfavorable amendments, S.B. 2371 was voted down in the House of Representatives on March 16, 2007.

Senate Bill 2184 would have raised North Dakota’s compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18. If this bill had passed, home educators would have had to comply with North Dakota’s burdensome homeschool law for an additional two years. Due to opposition from homeschoolers, this bill failed to pass the Senate Education Committee. Attempts to pass the bill through the full Senate were unsuccessful, as the bill failed to pass by a three to one margin.

Senate Bill 2414 would have provided a tax credit of $1,000 for each child receiving home education. This bill failed to pass out of the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee.

As originally introduced, Senate Bill 2309 would have prohibited any North Dakota student from graduating from high school or being admitted to college without completing a college preparatory curriculum. Due in large measure to the outcry of homeschoolers, this bill was amended to simply increase the number of units required for graduation. This bill was signed into law by the governor on May 4, 2007.

House Bill 1136, signed into law on April 12, 2007, added pneumococcal disease, meningococcal disease, rotovirus, and hepatitis A to the list of diseases for which immunizations are required for schoolchildren, including students receiving home instruction. Parents must obtain a certification from a licensed physician or representative from the state department of health that the child has received the required immunizations. This certification is then filed by the parent with the local school district. Fortunately, state law still provides for medical, religious, philosophical, and moral exemptions from the immunizations.

— by Dewitt T. Black