Negotiations in New Hampshire
Homeschoolers in New Hampshire can be exempted from compulsory attendance by one of two methods: the parents can request a religious exemption based on their sincere religious beliefs, or the parents must submit a letter of intent to the local superintendent. If the second method is chosen, parents must inform the superintendent of the ages of the children, qualifications of the parents, plan of evaluation, description of curriculum, and reasons for homeschooling. This “approval” must be sought 90 days prior to the beginning of the homeschool and if disapproved, parents can ask for a rehearing and then appeal to the state board.
Recently, there has been some difficulty in New Hampshire for a homeschool family, who at the beginning of the school year submitted a notice of intent to homeschool two of their three school-age children. The superintendent took the position, pursuant to the state guidelines that the children should be in school until the family is approved by the school board. Since the superintendent indicated that he was going to recommend approval, the family did not believe it would be in the best interest of the children to enroll them for such a short time and did not do so. The family was approved for home education by the school board.
During the Christmas break, it became obvious that the remaining child would have to leave the public school and be homeschooled as well. The family submitted the notice of intent and notice of withdrawal at the same time. The superintendent and the chairman of the school board (a lawyer) took the position, once again, that the child had to be in school until the approval was obtained. The parents refused to keep the child in school pending “approval.” In the same letter informing the family that he was again recommending approval, the superintendent threatened to turn the family over to the Department of Social Services for child neglect if they would not keep the child in school until “approval” was granted. When the family again refused, the superintendent did contact social services and a social worker called to make an appointment with the family. After discovering the history of the conflict between the superintendent and the parents, the social worker cancelled the appointment and expressed dissatisfaction with being used by the superintendent.
When the parents attended the board of education meeting shortly thereafter, the chairman of the school board questioned their representation about their religious convictions, even though the same board had approved the family’s homeschool program five months earlier.
On a more cheerful note, a member family received a religious exemption from the school board after the superintendent had filed a criminal complaint against the family. Attorney David Chamberlain, hired by HSLDA, convinced the superintendent to withdraw the complaint, and the family, after attending a school board meeting and presenting their religious convictions, were granted a religious exemption.