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1/8/2007 1:42:01 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Rhode Island--West Warwick Retreats from Time-on-Subject Demand

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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January 8, 2007

Rhode Island--West Warwick Retreats from Time-on-Subject Demand

Dear HSLDA members and friends:

When the local public school superintendent demanded that a West
Warwick family tell him how much time each of their four children was
going to spend on each subject, the Kanes called Home School Legal
Defense Association for help.

Nothing in Rhode Island law requires families to file this
information, but the out-of-date written policy for West Warwick
demanded daily time on task charts for "all academic subjects." HSLDA
attorney Scott Woodruff sent a detailed letter to the superintendent
explaining why this demand was not lawful. The superintendent brushed
it aside and said the demand was authorized based on a vaguely worded
"FAQ" answer on the website of the Rhode Island Department of
Education. He said he planned to ask the school committee to reject
the Kanes' homeschool plan at its next meeting.

Woodruff flew to Rhode Island to speak on behalf of the family at the
school committee meeting. Many homeschool families attended the
meeting as well as a show of support. Woodruff explained to the full
committee why the time-on-subject demand was not lawful, and asked
them to appoint a task force to revise their outdated policy. The
committee agreed to appoint a task force to revise the policy, but
refused to accept the family's homeschool plan. They gave the family
some additional time to work on the issue.

After consulting with the Kanes, Woodruff wrote a letter to the
superintendent a few days later stating the approximate total amount
of time per day the children would attend the home instruction
program, but firmly refusing to itemize how much time they would spend
on each subject. This was well justified. Rhode Island law requires
that homeschool students attend for a period approximately equal to
public school students, but it does not mandate how they must spend
this time.

The superintendent promptly wrote back and said he would accept this
and recommend that the school committee approve their plan.

By way of epilogue, plans to revise the problematic policy are moving
forward, and Woodruff has contacted the Department of Education to ask
that they revise the vaguely worded FAQ that appears to be at least
partly at the root of the problem.

We thank the many families who stood for freedom and attended the
school committee meeting to support the family.

Scott A. Woodruff
HSLDA staff attorney

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