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Date:
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3/6/2002 11:15:33 AM
Scott A. Woodruff, Esq., Staff Attorney of HSLDA
Maine--Commissioner Albanese Poised To Destroy Two "Safe Harbors" In Home School Regulations

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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March 6, 2002

Dear Maine Members and Friends,

The stage is set for Commissioner of Education J. Duke Albanese to
destroy two vital "safe harbors" home schoolers have under current
regulations.

The first is that 60 days after the commissioner receives a family's
equivalent instruction application, it is automatically approved
unless the commissioner has disapproved it. The second safe harbor
prevents the commissioner from denying a home school application
because of faults in applications submitted in previous years.

The commissioner has proposed changes in section 6 of the home school
regulations that would remove both of these safe harbors. He could
make his final decision as early as the end of this week.

ACTION REQUESTED

Please call Commissioner Albanese at 207-624-6620. Your message can
be as simple as: "Please do not change section 6 of the home school
regulations. It would destroy two very important safe harbors and
encourage bureaucratic delay. In addition, home schoolers could be
punished for things that occurred years ago, even if they received
approval from the commissioner."

If he says the official comment period is over, you can politely say,
"Yes, I understand, but the final decision has not been made yet, and
I want the commissioner to know I oppose his proposed changes to
section 6."

We need to keep track of how many people call his office. After you
call, please send an e-mail to me at scottw@hslda.org. You do not
need to put anything in the body of the e-mail. In the subject line,
simply put "I called Albanese."

Please pass this on to all your home school friends. Every call is
important.

BACKGROUND

On January 14, the commissioner proposed changes to sections 3, 4 and
6 of the home school regulations (Chapter 130). The proposed changes
to sections 3 and 4 are not objectionable.

The proposed changes to section 6, however, are detrimental to home
schoolers. At a public hearing on February 8, over a hundred home
schoolers opposed the changes. Not a single person spoke in favor.

Because Maine is one of only four states that still use an outdated
"approval" process, families must have state approval before they can
be certain their home school program will not face legal
difficulties.

One change to section 6 would allow the commissioner to deny approval
for home schooling if a family failed to turn in an assessment years
ago-even if they had previously been approved for that year.

Another change would take away the automatic approval home schoolers
now receive if the commissioner fails to take action after 60 days.
This change would take away the commissioner's incentive to work
promptly on home school applications, giving the green light to
bureaucratic delay. Home school families would be left in the dark
for long periods of time without knowing if their home school program
was "legal."

Yet another change would give the commissioner power to refuse to
even consider approving an application if an assessment is not
included. This means the commissioner could ignore an application
that did not contain an assessment and tell the family nothing. The
family would not know whether or not they were in compliance. The
current regulation, on the other hand, gives a safe harbor because
the family is approved automatically if the commissioner takes no
action within 60 days, even if no assessment was included.

(To read the actual text of the proposed changes and related
information, visit http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=344)

The proposed changes to section 6 are another installment in the
Commissioner's long line of disgraceful treatment of home schoolers,
which includes:

- In December of 2001, the commissioner demanded that one or more
children not yet of compulsory attendance age submit a year-end
assessment.

- On August 7, 2001, the commissioner threatened to retroactively
revoke previous year's approval of some home school programs.

- On June 5, 2001, Deputy Commissioner Lucarelli assured home
schoolers in writing that a necessary change to the home school
regulations would occur BEFORE any change to public school
regulations. The Commissioner did just the opposite, potentially
putting home schoolers at risk. See
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=345
to understand why this is important.

- In March of 2001, the commissioner threatened to withhold approval
for the 2001-2002 school year for some parents who did not submit an
assessment for the 1999-2000 school year.

Sincerely yours,

Scott Woodruff
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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