Victory For Home Schoolers In Ohio
The Lord richly blessed the home schoolers in Ohio this school year as HSLDA filed only one appeal from a denial by a superintendent. The matter was resolved at the pre-trial conference when the superintendent virtually agreed to what the parents had offered in their notice of intent/application. In addition, one case still holding over from last school year was resolved when the superintendent withdrew his denial. The superintendent accepted the family's initial application. Therefore, HSLDA has no cases pending in Ohio courts at this time.
There were eighty member families that received opposition from the school district which required some action on their behalf by HSLDA this year. All of the families were either granted excuses by their superintendent or received no further communication.
New Regulations Passed
What can you expect for the 1989–90 school year? The State Board of Education appointed an advisory committee to propose regulations regarding home education. That committee completed its work and passed along proposed regulations to the State Board. The Board conducted a public hearing on the regulations and passed the regulations into law on July 10, 1989. The effective date for the new regulations was August 1, 1989.
What effect will the regulations have on those who have already approached their superintendent? The regulations will take precedence over previous agreements or arrangements with the superintendent. The main purpose of the regulations was uniformity, i.e. all of the school districts would be operating under the same rules in granting excuses for home schooling from public school attendance.
The regulations provide that one is qualified to teach at home if they have a high school diploma, or GED certificate, or test scores that demonstrate high school equivalency, or other equivalent credentials found appropriate by the superintendent, or agreement to work under the direction of a person holding a B.S. degree from a recognized college. We strongly suggest that Ohio members that do not have a high school diploma take the GED examination as soon as possible.
Notice of Intent
The regulations contain a notice requirement for each school year to the appropriate superintendent. The notice is not required by any certain date. However, HSLDA recommends, where possible, to notify before school starts. The following information must be in the notice: The name and address of the parent or guardian (if the instructor is different from the parent, the name of the instructor); the full name and birth date of the child; and an assurance that certain subjects will be included in your child's education, although some of the subjects will not have to be taught each year.
A notice form, in all likelihood, will be provided by the State Department of Education which will enumerate the required subjects; however, the form is optional. Assurance of nine hundred hours of education is required each year. One does not have to teach the same hours as the public school.
For information purpose only, a brief outline is to be provided to the superintendent of the intended curriculum for the year, and a list of text books or the correspondence course you intend to use, or other basic teaching materials.
The superintendent reviews the notice and if it complies with the regulations, he “shall” excuse the child from public school attendance unless the superintendent has “substantial evidence” the minimum education requirements will not be provided. If denied by the superintendent, there is a right to a hearing before the superintendent where evidence supporting the superintendent's denial will be produced. Additionally, the parent will have a right to cross-examine the evidence and present evidence in their own behalf. If the superintendent still refuses to grant the excuse, the right to appeal the decision to the Court of Common Pleas is available.
At the end of each school year the parents must choose either to have the child tested via a standardized test, or evaluated by a certified teacher of the parent's choice by way of a written narrative, or provide another alternative assessment agreeable to the superintendent. If the child tests above the 25th percentile, this is deemed “reasonable proficiency.” If a written narrative is used, and the evaluator concludes that the child's academic progress is in accordance with the child's abilities, this satisfies the requirement that the child be making reasonable proficiency.
If one chooses the standardized test as the evaluation tool at the end of the year, any person authorized by the test provider may administer the test. It may be advisable to have someone other than yourself administer the test, but it may be done in the home. Any Ohio certified teacher or other person authorized by the superintendent, may administer the test as well.
If the child does not demonstrate reasonable proficiency based on the standards above, there is a remediation program available to the parents. The only difference between it and the regular program is that the parents have to submit quarterly reports indicating the child's progress.
The question still remains whether or not to support the legislation before the House of Representatives. We believe it is worthy of support. The regulations are an improvement in terms of providing uniformity across the state; however, the superintendent still has some discretion, as indicated above, in his decision making. House Bill 217 would eliminate that discretion and be more favorable to home schoolers in other provisions, as well.