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Vol. XXIV
No. 4
Cover
July/August
2008

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Across the States
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OHIO

Nationwide on Homeschoolers’ Side

Home School Legal Defense Association occasionally receives inquiries from homeschooling families about obtaining their auto insurance companies’ good student discounts. Private companies are not required to offer these types of incentives to homeschooled students, and many do not, often because they feel they cannot verify grade reports. However, HSLDA provided the motivation Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company needed to grant this discount to an Ohio family.

After being told that, despite her son’s ACT score in the 99th percentile, Nationwide would not grant him the good student discount, a homeschooling mom and HSLDA member contacted our office. In a letter to the company’s representative, HSLDA explained how homeschoolers measure academic progress and noted how other insurance companies have handled this issue. We included a copy of State Farm’s policy, which requires that parents submit standardized test scores above the 80th percentile to receive the discount.

A few weeks later, the family received word from Nationwide not only that their son would be granted the good student discount, but that the company will also be exploring the possibility of changing its policy regarding homeschooled students.

— by Michael P. Donnelly

Equal Access Policies

Unlike some states, Ohio law does not require public schools to allow homeschooled students to participate in extracurricular or cocurricular activities. Although the homeschool regulation does allow homeschoolers to enroll part-time in the public schools, each individual district is given the authority to set its own policy in this matter. Some districts allow full participation without enrollment, some require part-time enrollment (where the student takes a class or two), and some completely prohibit participation.

If your district has no homeschooler participation policy, or even if it prohibits participation, and you desire to involve your children in a public school extracurricular program, you might consider contacting your local superintendent or school board to propose changing the policy.

One HSLDA member mom did just that. After discovering that her district would not allow her children to play public school sports, she contacted HSLDA. Staff attorney Mike Donnelly suggested that she approach her district superintendent about the issue. Equipped with Donnelly’s advice, this member was able to work with the superintendent to change the district’s policy.

Since HSLDA’s primary focus is to protect the right to homeschool from government interference, we do not actively assist families with obtaining public school services. However, we are aware of families who have worked with their local school boards and superintendents to develop policies favorable to homeschoolers. While sports and other extracurricular activities can be a positive component of a homeschool program, HSLDA encourages each family to carefully weigh the potential risks and benefits associated with being involved in a public school program. For example, the Ohio Department of Education does require students enrolled part-time in a public school to take the Ohio Graduation Test for at least the course in which they are enrolled. Many school districts enforce this requirement, but most do not use the test results to determine a homeschooled student’s academic eligibility for extracurricular activities.

— by Michael P. Donnelly