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3/24/2005 5:12:24 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Pennsylvania--Calls Needed to Support Homeschool Reform Bill

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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March 24, 2005


Pennsylvania--Calls Needed to Support Homeschool Reform Bill


Dear HSLDA members and friends:

After months of working with state homeschool leaders and HSLDA about
legislation to improve Pennsylvania's homeschool law, on February 14,
2005, Representative Pat Fleagle (R) introduced House Bill 505. This
bill would remove superintendents from reviewing portfolios in home
education programs to determine whether the student is receiving an
appropriate education. Instead, the parent would submit to the
superintendent the written evaluation from a qualified evaluator. This
bill would also provide for an administrative procedure to resolve
questions about the parent's compliance with the law, thereby
protecting the family from truancy charges.

Next Wednesday, March 30, 2005, the Christian Homeschool Association
of Pennsylvania (CHAP) is sponsoring the Home Education Lobby Program
(HELP) at the Capitol in Harrisburg, at which time homeschooling
families will be given the opportunity to visit their legislators
about this bill. State legislators need to hear from you in advance of
this lobbying effort, so they can understand how important this bill
is to the homeschooling community. Even if you do not plan to
participate in HELP next Wednesday, please contact your state senator
and state representative and ask them to support this legislation.

At the Capitol next Wednesday, Representative Fleagle will speak to
homeschooling families about the provisions of his bill and the
legislative process during the briefing time between 8:00 and 9:30
a.m. If you attend, not only will you receive information about this
legislation directly from the bill sponsor, but this will be an
excellent educational experience for your children to learn how bills
become law.

You can access complete details about the homeschool day at the
Capitol by going to the CHAP web page:
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=2219 and clicking on the HELP Day
brochure on the right side or referring to the same brochure which was
in the spring issue of the CHAP Newsletter.

You must register for HELP Day by this Friday, March 25, so please do
it today. If you have any questions about registration, contact CHAP
at rothgaber@chaponline.com.


ACTION REQUESTED

1. Please contact your state senator and state representative with
this message:

"Please vote for House Bill 505. This bill would eliminate double
evaluations of home education programs by public school
superintendents. It would also improve administrative procedures for
resolving questions about a family's compliance with the homeschool
law."

You can find the name and telephone number of your state senator and
state representative by using HSLDA's Legislative Toolbox at
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=2220

2. Please forward this e-mail to every homeschooling family you know
who is not a member of HSLDA and urge them to contact their state
senator and state representative about this bill.


BACKGROUND

Only 28 states require any type of evaluation of homeschool programs.
Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation requiring a double
evaluation of a home education program each year. Presently a
qualified evaluator conducts an evaluation of a home education program
by reviewing the portfolio compiled by the parent, interviewing the
student, and certifying in writing whether an appropriate education is
occurring. All of this documentation is submitted to the
superintendent who also reviews the portfolio materials and
evaluator's certification and then makes a second determination of
whether an appropriate education is occurring.

We believe this second review of the portfolio materials by the
superintendent is unnecessary, because a qualified evaluator has
already done it. According to law, this evaluator must be a
state-certified teacher, a licensed clinical or school psychologist,
or a nonpublic school teacher or administrator. The proposed change in
the law would continue to require superintendents to review the
written evaluation of the evaluator, but superintendents would not
have to review the portfolio materials again.

This legislation would streamline the procedure for addressing
concerns about whether an appropriate education is occurring. Under
current law, if the superintendent examines the portfolio and
determines that an appropriate education is not occurring, he must
send a certified letter to the parents specifying how the
documentation is inadequate. The parent then has 20 days to submit
additional documentation. The superintendent has to review the
additional documentation, and if he reaches the same conclusion that
an appropriate education is not occurring, he initiates a due process
hearing.

Under the proposed changes to the law, if the superintendent received
a certification from the evaluator stating that an appropriate
education was not occurring, the superintendent would proceed
immediately to a due process hearing. There would be no 20 days for
additional documentation to be submitted by the parent and no
additional documentation to be reviewed by the superintendent.

Current law requires a parent to submit the portfolio and evaluation
at the end of the school year and during the year if the
superintendent thinks that an appropriate education is not occurring.
The law addresses the situation when a parent submits a portfolio with
inadequate documentation but not the situation when the parent submits
nothing at all. Additionally, there are times when the parent fails to
submit the information required in the affidavit at the beginning of
the home education program. There is nothing specified in the law to
remedy this failure to comply. Under the proposed changes, the parent
would be given an opportunity to remedy the noncompliance. If the
parent failed to comply, a due process hearing would be conducted to
terminate the home education program.

To view a copy of the text of House Bill 505 go to
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=2221

Please call now.

Sincerely


Dewitt T. Black, III
HSLDA Senior Counsel



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