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Due to space constraints, Doc’s Digest did not appear in the January/February 2010 issue. Doc’s Digest will resume publication on a new rotating schedule beginning in the March/April issue.

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Forms War

When Massachusetts homeschoolers submit a homeschool plan, state law allows superintendents and school committees to ask questions in four areas: (1) proposed curriculum and number of hours of instruction; (2) competency of the parents (the court observes that parents need not have college or advanced degrees); (3) textbooks, workbooks, and other instructional aids to be used (so that the superintendent or committee can determine the subjects to be taught and the grade level of instruction for comparison with the curriculum of the public schools); and (4) method of assessment used (to ensure educational progress and attainment of minimum standards).

The court states that the superintendent or school committee may properly require standardized testing or may substitute, subject to the approval of the parents, another form of assessment. Most school districts accept either the Home School Legal Defense Association notice of intent* or a form or letter put together by a parent. In a number of school districts, however, many parents receive a letter back, usually from an administrative assistant, with a request that the family fill out the school district’s form. In many cases, these forms ask for information not explicitly required by law or that clearly go beyond what is allowed by law. HSLDA has a high success rate of resolving these kinds of issues between homeschoolers and school districts. The law does not expressly require a parent to use any particular form to notify the district that they intend to homeschool, but a district may request further information from the parent. If you have an issue with your school district or superintendent over forms, don’t hesitate to contact our legal department. As a homeschooling parent, you have enough to do without having to deal with hassles from your local school district. Let us make it easier for you.

— by Michael P. Donnelly

College Backs off GED Demand after HSLDA Letter

Andrew (name changed to protect privacy), a Massachusetts homeschool graduate, applied to Greenville Technical School, was accepted, and began taking classes. The college, however, subsequently informed him that because he did not have an “official” diploma or transcript, he could not enroll in spring classes unless he took the GED. As members of HSLDA, Andrew's parents contacted our legal department and requested assistance.

HSLDA Staff Attorney Michael Donnelly wrote a letter to the dean of admissions asserting that Andrew’s diploma was valid because he was homeschooled in compliance with Massachusetts law. Further, Donnelly encouraged the dean to determine admission based on the academic ability of the student rather than where the student received his secondary education. The college responded positively, and Andrew has resumed his studies there.

* See “A Plethora of Forms.”