From the HSLDA E-lert Service:
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Date:
From:
Subject:

8/21/2002 11:09:11 AM
Scott W. Somerville, Esq., Staff Attorney of HSLDA
Nevada--Update on Curriculum Approval Regulations

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

A lot has happened since August 9, when I first informed you that the
Department of Education has decided that home schoolers must comply
with Nevada's new Content and Performance Standards. The bad news is
that the Department insists that Nevada law requires this. The good
news is that after hearing all the objections from HSLDA and Nevada
home school leaders, they are not going to try to make families meet
these new Standards this fall. It is our understanding that they
intend to propose changes to the regulations that govern home
schoolers within a few weeks or months. This gives Nevada families a
chance to get organized in defense of freedom!

ACTION REQUESTED

(1) Communicate: please share this email with all Nevada home
schoolers and interested persons. If you have received this email
from a friend, please sign up for HSLDA's free "e-lerts" at
www.hslda.org. If you have ever considered joining HSLDA in the
past, this would be a good time to do so!

(2) Network: we estimate that there are over 3,000 home schooling
families in Nevada, with a wide range of concerns and interests.
Home schoolers in local support groups need to network with other
groups across the state. HSLDA has a very incomplete list of Nevada
home schools groups at
http://www.hslda.org/orgs/default.asp?State=NV. If you would like
your group listed on our site, please email the name of the group,
the contact person's phone number, address, and email/website (if
any).

REPORT ON CONTACTS WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

Home schoolers in Churchill County were the first to realize that the
Department was trying to make us comply with the new Standards.
Missy Miller sent HSLDA a copy of an email from Leslie James, who
deals with home school matters at the Department. HSLDA contacted
Frank Schnorbus, a home school activist. As Chairman of the Northern
Nevada Home School Advisory Council, Frank has a good working
relationship with Leslie James. He was able to inquire about the
Department's position without creating unnecessary alarm. Frank
informed HSLDA that the Department was relying on legal advice from
Deputy Attorney General Melanie Meehan-Crossly.

HSLDA immediately contacted Steve Balkenbush, a Nevada attorney and
long-time home school leader. Steve served as a Deputy Attorney
General in the past and knows Ms. Meehan-Crossley personally. He
explained why home schoolers should not be subjected to the new
Standards, based on his extensive personal experience as president of
the Silver State Education Association and his expert knowledge of
Nevada law. Steve reported that the discussion was positive, but
that Ms. Meehan-Crossley had not changed her position yet.

The Department of Education invited Frank Schnorbus to come discuss
the situation with Ms. Meehan-Crossley and Department officials.
Frank notified HSLDA that he would meet with them at the end of the
day on Wednesday, August 14. I promptly called Ms. Meehan-Crossley
to find out what position the Attorney General's office was taking on
this matter. We had another "positive" discussion, and I immediately
wrote a letter to memorialize that conversation.
(http://www.hslda.org/hs/state/NV/nvletter.pdf) My letter ended with
a plea to retract Leslie James' email and return everything to the
"status quo" until we could address the larger legal issues. I faxed
my letter to Ms. Meehan-Crossley and made sure Frank got a copy of it
before he walked in to the meeting that afternoon.

Frank met with Ms. Meehan-Crossley and several Department of
Education officials at 3:30 pm on Wednesday, August 16. According to
an email Frank sent right after the meeting, the Department now plans
keep everything at "status quo" for the present. The Department is
drafting documents to ask the State Board of Education to amend the
current regulations to resolve the problem. (In the meantime, local
school districts should do just what they have done in the past.)
Home schoolers will have to work together and will have to work hard
to persuade the Board to protect home school freedoms.

WHY DO THEY CLAIM THE STANDARDS APPLY TO US?

At the start of 1997, Nevada's home school regulations required
annual standardized testing and certain required courses.
(Regulations always come from the executive branch of government;
education regulations are therefore written by the State Board of
Education. Nevada regulations are compiled in the "Nevada
Administrative Code," which is abbreviated "NAC.") NAC 392.035
requires home schoolers to "include instruction in the courses of
study prescribed by the state board of education pursuant to NRS
385.110." ("NRS" stands for the "Nevada Revised Code," which is a
collection of statutes passed by the Legislature.) In 1997, NRS
385.110 simply gave the Board of Education the power to require
certain subjects. The Board then defined the required subjects in
NAC 389.195 (for elementary students) and NAC 389.450 (additional
subjects for high school students).

During 1997, the State Board of Education amended the home school
regulations to remove the standardized testing requirement. In 1999,
the Nevada Legislature passed a huge Education Reform Act, which,
among other things, created the "Committee to Establish Academic
Standards for Public Schools." One small part of this huge Act
amended NRS 385.110, the statute that gives the Board of Education
authority to define the required subjects for Nevada public schools.
This amendment required the Board of Education to make sure the
courses of study "comply with the standards of content and
performance established by the council to establish academic
standards for public schools."

To the best of our knowledge, nobody in the Legislature, Board of
Education, Department of Education, or Attorney General's office
realized that this change to a public school statute (NRS 385.110)
would have any effect on home schoolers. If they had, they should
have notified home schoolers of their opportunity to comment when
regulations were being written to implement these new standards.
Since there was neither notice nor an opportunity to be heard, home
schoolers can challenge the new regulations any time until November
1, 2003.

CONCLUSION

This situation is serious, but by working together we can win.
Nevada home schoolers must get organized now to protect our freedom
in the months ahead. The price of liberty is STILL eternal
vigilance!

Very truly yours,

Scott W. Somerville
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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