The Home School Court Report
VOLUME XV, NUMBER 4
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JULY / AUGUST 1999
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Cover Story
What Did the Founders Say? A Strategy to Bring Original Intent Back to U.S. Courts

Special Features
House Protects Liberty—When Money Is at Stake

Debate: The Clash of Skill, Wit, and Ideas

PHC Breaks New Ground

Touched By An Angel Responds to Home Schooler’s Concerns

National Center Reports
Straight A’s Bill Introduced

Marriage Penalty Tax Relief

New Plan Allows SSN Alternative for IRS Deductions

The Beginning of the End:National Teaching Certificates and Goals 2000

Military Recuitment of Home Schoolers Increasing

Across the States
State by State

Regular Features
Press Clippings

A Contrario Sensu

Prayer and Praise

Litigation Report

President’s Page

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Ohio

Barberton School District Exceeds Regs
    It is not unusual for public school superintendents to delegate authority for monitoring home schooling to someone else on their staff. Occasionally, this concerns home schoolers who know that the regulations indicate that it is the superintendent who is to issue excuses from public school attendance. Home School Legal Defense Association does not believe this delegation of authority should cause anxiety, as this is common practice in every state. Our attorneys have never had a child’s excuse questioned because it was not personally issued by the superintendent.
    However, these superintendents’ designees may tend to be overzealous in their new job descriptions and often do not understand the boundaries of their authority.
    For example, this year the Barberton Public Schools sent a letter to the home school community which uses “approval” language in connection with the home school “notification” that is submitted annually. To school officials, this may seem like a matter of semantics, or perhaps they believe they do have approval authority. However, the regulations enacted by the Ohio State Board of Education make it clear that parents have a right to home school; they do not ask permission to teach their own children. They notify the school district of their decision to educate their children at home.
    The Barberton letter also indicates that new home schoolers are required to attend a meeting to review the district’s home school procedures. Unfortunately, these new home schoolers are the ones least likely to know that this is not a requirement and they cannot be compelled to attend meetings with school personnel.
    Another typical request by this school is that home schoolers submit the results of the annual assessment 30 days after the end of the school year. According to state regulations, this assessment should be submitted with the notice of intent at the beginning of the subsequent school year—not at the end of the public school year.
    One final area of concern to home school families, as well as to HSLDA, is a statement that Barberton wants to evaluate the assessment to determine if the child has made reasonable academic progress. This is not within the authority of the school district. The assessment to be submitted by the parent has already determined that appropriate progress has been made. A composite score at or above the 25th percentile on a nationally normed standardized test has been determined to demonstrate reasonable progress. There is nothing for the school district to evaluate. If the parent chooses a written narrative in lieu of testing, then an Ohio-certified teacher has determined that the child is “making progress in accordance with his abilities.”
    The Barberton Home Education Policy indicates that it is the parents’ “obligation to review their child’s academic progress with the superintendent or designee.” But the issue of academic progress is adequately addressed by the state board’s regulations, which local school districts have no authority to exceed. HSLDA attorney Michael Smith addressed these matters in a letter to the superintendent’s designee, but he had received no reply as this article went to press.
    Most of HSLDA’s members are fully aware of what is and is not required in the state of Ohio. We encourage our members to make sure new home schoolers get plugged into local supports groups, as well as the statewide Christian Home Educators of Ohio, so that they can get up to speed and know exactly what is required and—equally importantly—not required.