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4/4/2003 5:26:31 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Texas--Equal Access Bill May Damage Homeschool Freedom

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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April 4, 2003

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

Once again we need to bring to your attention to a bill we believe is
damaging to the "private school" status of homeschooling in Texas.

Texas House Bill 214 (introduced by Rep. Brian McCall) relates to
homeschool student participation in public school academic and
extracurricular activities. This bill creates a category of "home
schools" in the Texas compulsory statutes and opens the door, we
believe, for further regulation of homeschoolers.

This bill is coming up for a hearing on April 8, 2003. We need your
calls immediately.

REQUESTED ACTION

Please call as many members of the committee as possible and give
them the following message in your own words by April 8th.

"Please vote against the homeschool participation bill, H.B. 214.
This bill wrongly identifies private school students who are pursuing
an education at home as 'homeschoolers.' The Texas Supreme Court,
after years of litigation, recognized our freedom to operate as a
private school and we do not want to endanger our private school
status. This bill will burden school districts by adding to class
volume and will have a negative fiscal impact."

Committee on Public Education

Chair: Rep. Kent Grusendorf, (512) 463 0624
Vice Chair: Rep. Rene Oliveira, (512) 463 0640
Rep. Dan Branch, (512) 463 0367
Rep. Glenda Dawson, (512) 463 0707
Rep. Harold V. Dutton, Jr., (512) 463 0510
Rep. Rob Eissler, (512) 463 0797
Rep. Bob E. Griggs, (512) 463 0599
Rep. Scott Hochberg, (512) 463 0492
Rep. Jerry Madden, (512) 463 0544

BACKGROUND

There are currently two homeschool participation bills in the Texas
Legislature: H.B. 214 and its sister bill S.B. 412. These bills
provide that a homeschool student may enroll in public school in the
district as a part time student. The bills allow the school to give
homeschool students access to laboratory facilities. A school
district may permit a homeschooled student entitled under Section
25.001 to attend public school in the district to participate in an
online course. A school district may furnish textbooks without cost
to a homeschooled student. A school district may permit a
homeschooled student to participate in a district sponsored
extracurricular activity.

While HSLDA generally takes a neutral stance on equal access to
public school programs, we are concerned with the wording of these
two bills. If enacted they would create a new category of education
under the Texas compulsory attendance code.

Up until this time, homeschoolers have clearly been considered
"private schools." This right to be a "private school" was earned
through years of hard fought litigation culminating in the Leeper
decision by the Texas Supreme Court. We have personally handled
scores of cases fighting for homeschool freedom.

By creating a bill allowing for a new category of students,
"homeschool students," we are setting ourselves up for a fall. This
"home school" language, added to bills involving compulsory
attendance age students, gives future legislatures the excuse to
regulate us. This will also cause confusion in the courts and may
separate us from the precedent in Leeper.

The homeschool organizations in other states where homeschools are
recognized as "private schools" are of one mind on this issue as
well. They routinely oppose all attempts to add the term "home
school' into their education codes.

We must add that Representative McCall's intent is good. He only
wants to help homeschoolers. However, Tom Sanders our Texas
Legislative Counsel, has visited his office and explained this danger
but Representative McCall has chosen not to change his position.

To amend the language and remove the term "home school" student and
replace it with "private school" student is not feasible because
neither the legislature nor the public schools want to open all these
public schools programs to all private school students. The expenses
are too high.

HSLDA believes it is in the best interest of homeschoolers in Texas
to remain in the same loosely regulated category as private school
students. If both groups enjoy the same legal status, we will more
easily maintain the freedom homeschools enjoy.

It is important to note, there is another bill, H.B. 580, that
completely scraps the Universtiy Interscholastic League and creates a
new commission that will create rules for participation in sports by
private schools, public schools and charter schools. The sponsor of
this bill removed the term "home school" thus avoiding the potential
danger. Homeschools could simply fit under private schools in that
bill in order to participate in sports.

We do not know for certain what the courts or legislatures will do
with the statutorily created category of "home school" in Texas. But
we would rather preserve our liberty than receive more "freebies." We
all have fought too hard for freedom to take this risk.

Thanks for calling to oppose H.B. 214. Your calls will make the
difference.

Sincerely,

Chris Klicka
HSLDA Senior Counsel

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