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Vol. XXV
No. 6
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November/December
2009

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LOUISIANA

DOE Changes Guidelines

Just as many families were beginning their homeschool programs under either the home study or private school provisions of Louisiana law, the Louisiana Department of Education (DOE) released their “guidelines” to parents. While the guidelines aren’t legally binding, they generally provide a good explanation of state law and information on what the DOE is looking for.

The 2009 guidelines revealed significant changes by the DOE that would likely affect every homeschooling family in the state.

Among other things, the guidelines for home study programs included a requirement that parents submit proof that 11-year-old students had been immunized against meningitis or were exempt from the meningitis vaccine requirement. Additionally, the guidelines radically changed the accepted list of standardized achievement tests that would be accepted for renewal applications.

The guidelines for both home study programs and private schools included an incomplete description of Louisiana compulsory attendance law that gave many parents the impression that Louisiana prohibits homeschooled children from being out in public during normal school hours.

Home School Legal Defense Association Staff Attorney Thomas Schmidt participated in a meeting set up by the Christian Home Educators Fellowship of Louisiana (CHEF of LA) and attended by state leaders, concerned homeschool moms, and several DOE officials.

During the meeting, DOE officials were responsive to all of the concerns raised.

Schmidt pointed out that nothing had changed in state law or regulation that would change the acceptable standardized achievement tests for home study renewals. While the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) has never formally adopted a complete list of acceptable tests, the practice has been to accept any of the major published tests. The DOE has agreed to formally adopt a broad list and continue to accept those tests it has in the past.

The DOE also agreed to modify the home study application and renewal forms to have a box to indicate that the student either has received the meningitis immunization or has an exemption. The requirement to include home study students for this immunization was slipped in late in a committee hearing on a bill last year that originally only applied to public school students. We plan on lobbying for the removal of home study students from this requirement entirely next legislative session.

HSLDA expects these changes to be made within the next couple of months.

— by Thomas J. Schmidt