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Tuesday: The Battle for Homeschool Freedom Comes to Grand Island, Scottsbluff, and Lincoln
Take action to oppose harmful rule changes!
Staff Attorney Peter K. Kamakawiwoole, Jr. answers questions and assists members with legal issues in Nebraska.
Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,
In response to homeschooler’s recent victory in the Thacker case, the Nebraska Department of Education is considering amendments to Rules 12 and 13.
The Nebraska Christian Home Educator’s Association (NCHEA) and HSLDA are strongly opposed to these changes, which are overwhelmingly negative:
- Any homeschoolers who withdraw from a public school or accredited private school will be required to stay in that school until they receive an official letter from the Department of Education, saying that they can homeschool (003.02A2). This is the first step toward state approval for homeschoolers and is contrary to the legislature’s decision that an exempt school begins as soon as the Department receives the paperwork from parents.
- New homeschoolers will need to file their Rule 12 or 13 paperwork “upon becoming a resident” (if the family moves in from another state, 003.02A1) or “as soon as practicable” (if the child was previously enrolled in an accredited school, 003.02A2). The law currently requires both groups of homeschoolers to file their paperwork “30 days prior” to when they begin homeschooling. The intent behind this was to give people who are new to the state a set period of time to get their affairs in order before they had to begin homeschooling. That period now becomes ambiguous (“as soon as practicable”), or vanishes entirely (“upon becoming a resident”).
- The filing deadline for repeat-filers under Rules 12 and 13 will change from July 15th to July 1st (§ 003.02A).
- Homeschoolers will be required to submit supplementary sheets, designed by the Department. Under the current rules, parents can choose to submit these sheets, but can also create their own forms for documenting the information requested, if they so desire.
Your action is desperately needed to oppose these harmful rule changes, and to preserve the victories that homeschoolers have won in the legislature and the courts.
The Department cannot make these rule changes without first taking public comments. The Nebraska Department of Education has scheduled a hearing on these changes, which will be simulcast via video conference at the following three locations across the state:
- Scottsbluff Vocational Rehabilitation Office, 505A Broadway, Suite 500, Scottsbluff, NE 69361
- Grand Island Public Library, 211 North Washington, Grand Island, NE 68801
- Lincoln Executive Building, 512 S. 14th Street, Suite 103, Lincoln, NE 68508
Please stand with NCHEA and HSLDA by taking the following actions:
- If you are not already a member of NCHEA, I strongly encourage you to join. NCHEA has been a strong partner with HSLDA for many years in the fight for homeschool freedom, and they work tirelessly to keep homeschoolers in Nebraska informed of the challenges and threats arising from regulatory and legislative proposals. Click here to join, and to be added to NCHEA's e-mail list for future updates on homeschool freedom in Nebraska.
- I will be attending the Department's hearing on October 15th, and I encourage you to do the same. The Department drafted these rules without asking for any input from NCHEA, HSLDA, or the Nebraska homeschooling community. Your presence will be a powerful reminder to them that homeschoolers care deeply about these issues.
- As part of its rule-making procedures, the Department is required by law to take public comments on these proposed changes, and to publish them in a public record. These comments not only play an important role in informing the Department on public sentiment, but they can also play a vital role in challenging harmful regulations in the legislature or the courts. If you would like to contribute comments, there are two ways you can do so:
- If you are planning to attend a hearing on Tuesday, consider preparing some brief remarks to share with the Department during the public comment time. While NCHEA and HSLDA are planning to testify on the proposed changes (from a state-wide and legal perspective, respectively), these changes ultimately affect those of you who are homeschooling every day. Make sure your voice is heard!
- If you cannot attend, or if you are planning to attend, but would prefer not to make oral remarks, consider submitting written comments to the Department. Written comments can be mailed or dropped-off ahead of time at the locations above, or can be delivered at those locations on the day of the hearing if you are planning to attend.
- Please be in prayer for this hearing, and that the Department’s eyes would be open to seeing the truth about these changes. The Department considers these changes to be minor and non-controversial. The fact is that these changes would significantly restrict homeschool freedom in Nebraska, and set a bad precedent for the country as a whole.
On May 31, 2013, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled unanimously in State v. Thacker that a family who had waited to begin homeschooling their five children until after the public schools were in session was not guilty of truancy. The decision not only put to rest the dangerous assertion that children are “presumed” to be enrolled in public schools, but also reinforced the fact that parents do not need “approval” from the Department of Education before they can begin homeschooling.
The Nebraska Department of Education has decided to respond to homeschoolers’ overwhelming victory in Thacker by amending its rules for creating exempt schools (Rules 12 and 13). NCHEA and HSLDA have reviewed these amendments, and they are almost entirely harmful to homeschoolers. Click the following links to review the proposed changes to Rule 12 and Rule 13 for yourself.
Standing with you for freedom,
P.S. We greatly value you and your support—it is a privilege to serve you. Thank you for all you do for freedom! If you or someone you know is not a member of HSLDA, will you consider taking a moment today to join or recommend us? Your support for our work enables us to defend individual families threatened by government officials and protect homeschooling freedom for all. Join now >>
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