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6/12/2008 3:11:17 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
New York--Calls Needed to Restore Special Ed Services for Homeschoolers

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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June 12, 2008

New York--Calls Needed Immediately to Restore
Special Education Services for Homeschoolers

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

As many of you know, a bill has been introduced in the New York Senate
to restore services for homeschool students who have special education
needs. Senate Bill 7490A would allow homeschool students to receive
services, just as other nonpublic school students who need special
education services. Some children who are taught at home have severe
education needs which require special education services. Many of
their parents find it almost impossible to obtain similar services
privately.

The Senate has acted swiftly to pass a bill drafted by the New York
State Education Department (NYSED), with some consultation with a task
force of homeschool parents, representatives from several homeschool
organizations across the state and other special needs advocates.
HSLDA has been involved as well.

The Assembly has introduced legislation to fix this problem, Assembly
Bill 11463. While this bill would treat homeschool students virtually
the same as nonpublic school students for special education purposes,
the Assembly's bill is not the same as the Senate's. With only days
until the session ends, we need your quick action to help pass this
legislation before time runs out.

Please contact the three individuals listed below, as well as your own
assemblyman, and urge them to amend the Assembly version to be the
"same as" Senate Bill 7490A. If you have a child with a disability and
are able to come to Albany on Tuesday, June 17, please consider doing
so.

REQUESTED ACTION

1) Please immediately call and email the following members of the
Assembly and give them this message in your own words:

"We need you to amend Assembly Bill 11463 to be the 'same as' Senate
Bill 7490A. If this is not done, students who need services but are
being taught in their home will be without services. Most have already
lost services, and your failure to pass the same bill as the Senate
will harm those children, erasing the positive progress they have
made. Homeschoolers are not seeking an entitlement to services in the
home; they just want to be treated as other nonpublic school students
for the purpose of special education services."

Feel free to share your own personal story of how the loss of services
has or will affect you and your family.

If possible call all numbers listed below and e-mail each person.

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (Sponsor)
Albany Office: 518-455-4851
Sunnyside District Office: 718-784-3194
Ridgewood District Office: 718-456-9492
E-mail: nolanc@assembly.state.ny.us

Assemblyman Michael Benedetto (Co-Sponsor)
Albany Office: 518-455-5296
District Office: 718-320-2220
District Office: 718-892-2235
E-mail: benedem@assembly.state.ny.us

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver
Albany Office: 518-455-3791
District Office: 212-312-1420
E-mail: speaker@assembly.state.ny.us

2) Also, contact your own assemblyman and give him or her this message
in your own words:

"As a constituent, I am urging you to work to get Assembly Bill 11463
amended to be the 'same as' Senate Bill 7490A. If this is not done,
students who need services but are being taught in their home will be
without services. Most have already lost services, and your failure to
pass the same bill as the Senate will harm those children, erasing the
positive progress they have made. Homeschoolers are not seeking an
entitlement to services in the home; they just want to be treated as
other nonpublic school students for the purpose of special education
services."

Feel free to share with your assemblyman your own personal story of
how the loss of services has or will affect you and your family.

To get the name and contact information for your Assemblyman, please
use HSLDA's Legislative Toolbox at: http://www.hslda.org/toolbox .

3) Please consider traveling to Albany to lobby the Assembly to amend
their bill to be the same as Senate Bill 7490A. Efforts are underway
to have a press conference and an opportunity for homeschool families
with special needs children to share stories of how the denial of
services affects them.

Tentative plans are for as many people as possible to come on Tuesday,
June 17. It is vitally important for families who will be affected by
this bill to attend and urge that a bill be passed this session. If
nothing is done, services would be lost for all of next year, too.

If you are interested in participating please email Jason McGuire at
jason@nyfrf.org . Jason will be coordinating efforts at the capitol.
Please also copy legald@hslda.org if you will be attending.

If you plan on attending, you should try and set a meeting with your
assemblyman while there.

BACKGROUND

In January, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) wrote a
letter to every school district in the state, informing them that
special education services were not authorized to be provided to
homeschool students. Due to your grassroots efforts and those of many
dedicated parents and state organizations such as LEAH, legislation
was drafted by the New York Board of Regents and the NYSED to restore
services to those homeschool children who need special education
services.

Having two different bill versions could prevent any legislation aimed
at fixing this problem from being passed this year. While you may be
told that the Assembly version allows parents to be entitled to
services in the home, the Senate bill doesn't prevent services from
being in the home. Most parents who receive services would rather work
that issue out with their local school district. We are not trying to
create an entitlement to services in the home. The Senate Bill version
is the best option and is a department bill, authored and supported by
the NYSED.

Thanks for all of your efforts on behalf of those student with special
education needs who are taught at home!

Sincerely,

Thomas Schmidt
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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