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2/21/2003 4:02:17 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Maine--Committee Unanimously Approves LD 160

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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February 21, 2003

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

Yesterday, February 20, the Maine legislature's joint Education and
Cultural Affairs committee unanimously voted "Ought to Pass as
Amended" during its work session on LD 160. This is a tremendous
step toward victory. We would like to thank the 500 homeschoolers who
came to the state capital to support the bill at the public hearing
on February 11, as well as the many others who made phone calls or
sent letters. The bill will soon be presented to the full house and
senate for approval.

As amended, LD 160 would totally revamp Maine's homeschool law
(without affecting non-approved private schools). The commissioner
would no longer have power to "approve" a homeschool program. A
family would file a simple notice within 10 days of the beginning of
the homeschool program. The notice would include the name,
signature, and address of the parent, the name and age of the child,
the date home instruction will begin, and assurance that there will
be 175 days of instruction in the required subjects. This notice
would be sent to the Commissioner of Education, with a copy to the
local superintendent.

This simple notice would replace the complex and time-consuming four-
page application homeschoolers are currently required to fill out.
(One member of the committee noted during the work session that the
application was so complex it would take a "Harvard graduate" to
figure it out.)

After filing this initial notice, each subsequent year on or before
September 1, the family would file a letter with the commissioner,
with a copy to the local superintendent. The family would enclose an
assessment of progress (same options as are currently available) and
a statement as to whether the family intends to continue the home
instruction program.

With "approval" eliminated, families would never be in a position of
waiting and wondering if they were in compliance with the law because
the department misplaced their paperwork, made inappropriate demands,
sent inappropriate letters, or failed to communicate. We are
currently representing many families who are in legal "limbo" because
they courageously refused to give the Department information it
demanded but to which it was not entitled.

Improving a homeschool law is always the product of the hard work and
cooperation of many people. A number of homeschool organizations were
consulted as the bill was drafted. One organization in particular,
Homeschoolers of Maine, has been an instrumental force in advancing
the bill.

Special credit goes to Senator Carol Weston, a primary sponsor of the
bill, for her ceaseless, untiring, and highly effective work in
support of this bill.

As we wait for LD 160 to be presented to the full house and senate,
please consider taking a moment and sending Senator Weston a letter
telling her how much you appreciate her work on behalf of the
homeschool community.

For more information on LD 160 visit our web site at:
http://www.hslda.org/Legislation/State/me/2003/MELD160/default.asp

We will keep you posted as to this bill's progress.

Very truly yours,

Scott A. Woodruff
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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