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12/2/2002 4:48:08 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Maryland--Your Presence Needed Tomorrow at Vital Meeting

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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December 2, 2002


Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

Tomorrow may be our last opportunity to stop the Maryland Board of
Education from adopting a regulation that would require homeschoolers
to file an assurance of consent form every year, rather than just
once. The Board will meet tomorrow, December 3, to hear public
comment.

In response to the many comments the Department has received already,
Dr. Nancy Grasmick, the State Superintendent of Schools, has written
a reply and asked us to distribute it to our Maryland members. The
letter is not accurate. It seems to threaten homeschooling parents
with prosecution if they fail to file annually. The entire text of
the letter is below, with our response.

For more information on why HSLDA opposes this new regulation, visit
our web site at:
http://www.hslda.org/Legislation/State/md/2002/MDDOERegs/default.asp

REQUESTED ACTION

Please come to the Board meeting tomorrow to demonstrate your
opposition to the proposed regulation. The meeting will be held in
the 7th Floor Board Room of the State Education Building, 200 West
Baltimore Street, Baltimore, Maryland.

A large turnout may help persuade the Board that they should agree to
our request to drop the regulation and form a taskforce to discuss
any issues that need resolving. After the board room is full, the
rest of us can gather across the street in the large public space in
front of the Baltimore Arena.

Please plan to arrive at 2:45. The public comment period is
scheduled to begin at 3:45 and end at 4:15. Dress warmly. The
forecast is for a very cold day.

Reporters for various media may be present. If they ask you for an
interview, please refer them to me or one of the other homeschool
leaders present.

LETTER FROM DR. GRASMICK

November 27, 2002

To Home Schooling Parents:

Thank you for your comments on the proposed revision to COMAR
13A.10.01. As you know, Maryland is among a small minority of states
that imposes very few requirements on parents or guardians who school
their children at home. One provision that has always been required
as a matter of practice is that a parent or guardian must register
each year with the local school system indicating that they are home
schooling their children and that the home schooling is under the
supervision of either the local school system, an educational
institution operated by a bona fide church organization, or a
certified nonpublic school.

Some parents have refused to submit the registration form annually.
These parents run the risk of being referred for prosecution for
violating the compulsory attendance law. Because this requirement has
always been in place as a matter of practice, a recommendation was
made during the statutorily mandated regulatory review process that
the registration requirement be clarified to indicate that the
registration form must be submitted annually.

This recommendation was included with others that surfaced during the
regulatory review process. The State Board granted permission to
publish the recommended revisions to COMAR 13A.07.0l through
13A.13.01. The proposed changes were printed in the Maryland
Register, Volume 29 Issue 21, page 1668. The public was given the
opportunity to submit written comment to MSDE by November 19, 2002.
The State Board will take final action on the proposed revisions at
their public meeting on December 3-4, 2002.

Sincerely,

Nancy S. Grasmick
State Superintendent of Schools

RESPONSE FROM HOME SCHOOL LEGAL DEFENSE ASSOCIATION

1. The letter says Maryland is among a small minority of states that
impose very few requirements on homeschoolers. This is not correct.
For example, most states do not require homeschool families to submit
any sort of year-end assessment or evaluation. Maryland regulations
require all families (except those operating under an umbrella) to
submit up to three assessments (portfolios) per year.

2. The letter states that filing an assurance of consent every year
"has always been required as a matter of practice." This is not
correct. HSLDA has consistently advised our members to file only one
assurance of consent. At least one school district has stated in
writing that only one is required.

3. The letter warns that parents who fail to file annually run the
risk of prosecution. HSLDA represented a family several years ago
where the parents did not wish to utilize the regulations. They
were, however, providing regular, thorough instruction as the law
requires. The judge ruled that they had not violated the compulsory
attendance law.

4. Perhaps most significantly, the letter fails to acknowledge that
the Department violated homeschoolers' trust by drafting this
regulation in isolation. Homeschoolers were left out of the process
and we must insist on inclusion. Those who are to be affected by a
new regulation must be involved in its formulation.


Thank you for standing with us to protect freedom for homeschoolers
in Maryland. I look forward to seeing you at tomorrow's meeting.

Very truly yours,

Scott Woodruff
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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