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July 23, 2008

State Board of Education Approves New Restrictive Homeschool Regulations

For the first time in over 15 years, a United States jurisdiction has enacted laws that significantly increase restrictions on homeschooling freedom!

This past Wednesday, the D.C. State Board of Education (SBOE) approved the State Superintendent of Education’s June 27 draft of the home education regulations. After some discussion, the SBOE voted 5 to 1 in favor of the superintendent’s regulations.

Only Board Member William Lockridge voted “no.” When giving his reasons, he exposed the unbridled discretion the Superintendent would now have over homeschoolers. Lockridge likened the new power of the Superintendent over parents as a type of “socialism.”

These regulations were objected to by many—the Board recorded receiving over 2,800 emails, 400 phone calls, and written comments in opposition.

This was the third public session held to discuss these regulations. In the first session, over 120 homeschoolers attended and over 30 testified including lengthy presentations by Chris Klicka, Mike Donnelly, and Scott Woodruff of HSLDA. That resulted in the removal of the worst requirement: home visits by D.C. school officials.

However, in spite of testimony presented by Ethan Reedy, President of D.C. Home Educators Association, and Chris Klicka of HSLDA, the Board passed the new restrictive regulations. It was clear the Board already had its mind made up. (Klicka’s written testimony can be reviewed online here).

HSLDA had even delivered a letter signed by 10 congressmen on the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform encouraging them to “work with HSLDA to ensure that the proposed changes in the city’s rules … will not have an adverse impact on homeschooling families in the District.” All to no avail.

Among other things, the new regulations require annual notification of a parent’s intent to homeschool on a future form developed by OSSE (Office of the State Superintendent of Education), maintenance of a portfolio of schoolwork, and up to two annual portfolio reviews by the OSSE to determine whether a homeschool program, in OSSE’s opinion, is providing “regular, thorough instruction” in the required subjects. No guidelines are provided by the Board giving the OSSE arbitrary discretion to implement these provisions.

To read the new regulations, click here.

HSLDA is working on an analysis to guide our D.C. members in their response to this development. Please stay tuned for further information as OSSE’s deadline for notification (August 15) approaches.

 Other Resources

For more information, visit HSLDA’s District of Columbia homepage and the websites listed below: