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Winchester Leads the Way
In 1992, the Bourne Public Schools prepared to prosecute a successful homeschool family, just because they refused to comply with that district's unconstitutional homeschool policy. Homeschool leaders from Virginia and Michigan flew to Massachusetts to help the White family make one last appeal to the school committee. At the last moment, the school officials decided to set up a "task force" to consider changes to that district's policy, and a new era dawned in Massachusetts. After years of confrontations and standoffs, school officials discovered that it's better to work with homeschoolers when drafting policies that affect homeschooling liberties.
By 1996, the little town of Groton did even better. Sandra Lovelace, a homeschool leader, approached her superintendent to try to build a better policy than Bourne. Instead of waiting for a conflict, the two spent months trying to find the best possible arrangement for that district. The Groton-Dunstable Regional School District Policy that resulted from those months of effort proved enormously popular across the Commonwealth. Between 20 and 30 percent of school districts now use some variation of the Groton-Dunstable approach.
Winchester has now taken the original Groton policy one step further. That school district has developed a "Notice of Intent to Pursue a Program of Home Education" (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) form that is a model of simplicity. We encourage all Massachusetts homeschoolers to compare Winchester's paperwork with that used in their own district. (Since Massachusetts does not require any particular forms, families are free to use the Winchester paperwork instead of the materials their own district has provided if they so choose.)
Winchester has demonstrated that school officials can simplify the paperwork and still fulfill the law. We hope this spells another step forward for homeschooling in Massachusetts.
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