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5/8/2003 2:44:44 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Maine--Homeschool Bill Overwhelmingly Passes Legislature

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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May 8, 2003

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

Good news! Your prayers have been answered, God has given us the
victory! By a vote of 31-0 in the Senate on May 6, and 121-2 in the
House on May 7, the Maine legislature passed sweeping changes to
Maine's homeschool law. Legislative Document 160 is now on its way
to the Governor's desk to be signed into law.

Passage of this bill means homeschoolers will no longer be subject to
the whims of Department of Education bureaucrats.

Here are the most significant changes:

1. Under the new law, parents file a written notice (not
"application") 10 days before the child's home instruction begins.
The notice includes the name, signature, and address of the parent or
guardian, the name and age of the student, the date home instruction
will begin, and a statement of assurance that instruction will be
provided for at least 175 days and will cover the required subject
areas (same as previously required). The notice also includes a
statement of assurance that the parents will submit a year-end
assessment.

The initial notice of intent is filed simultaneously with the local
school administrative unit and with the commissioner of education.
This notice and any other information that is filed receives enhanced
privacy protection.

2. Each year thereafter the family files a simple letter telling the
commissioner and the school administrative unit whether or not the
child's home instruction program will continue. They must also
include a copy of the previous year's annual assessment. The options
for the annual assessment are the same as those available previously.

3. The law abolishes the need to seek the commissioner's approval.
Because of this, families will never have to anxiously await a letter
from the commissioner to find out if their homeschool program is
operating legally. Previously, if the Department lost or mishandled
paperwork, it could expose a family to legal jeopardy.

4. And with "approval" gone, so is the vexing four-page form used to
apply for approval. It was so complicated that one member of the
legislature's Education and Cultural Affairs Committee declared it
would take a "Harvard graduate" to figure it out. Gone also are the
four pages of burdensome, intrusive regulations that governed
approval.

5. The law curtails the ability of the commissioner to write
regulations. Previously he could adopt regulations despite the
overwhelming opposition of the homeschool community, with no
accountability to the legislature. Under the new law, any regulations
he attempts to adopt are considered "major substantive rules". Rules
that fall in this category can be blocked by the legislature. This
creates accountability to the elected representatives and to the
people themselves. With "approval" no longer required by law, the
commissioner's power of homeschoolers is vastly limited.

Ed and Kathy Green and Kathi Kearney with Homeschoolers of Maine have
worked tirelessly to help LD 160 pass, both publicly and behind the
scenes. Their efforts have been instrumental. We also thank our
members and friends in Maine who whose tireless efforts produced many
phone calls and visits to the legislature.

Senator Carol Weston, the principal sponsor of the bill, has worked
with tremendous enthusiasm and dedication to obtain passage of this
bill. Truly God has brought this blessing of greater liberty to
Maine homeschoolers, but we all owe a debt of gratitude to Senator
Weston for her contribution.

LD 160 was amended during the legislative process and accomplishes
somewhat less than we had initially hoped. Yet it is without question
a tremendous step forward for homeschool liberty in Maine.

Sincerely,

Scott A. Woodruff
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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