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DNPE Publishes New Policy
According to a flyer disseminated by the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE), a new policy implemented as of July 1, 2011, affects the operation of homeschools. Entitled What’s New at NCDNPE?, the flyer describes three changes involving home educators’ future interaction with this state agency. Home School Legal Defense Association has analyzed the new policy by comparing it to state law governing homeschools as it appears in the General Statutes of North Carolina.
The first change described in the policy states that new homeschool notice of intent forms will only be accepted by DNPE from July through April. No forms will be accepted during the months of May and June. According to sections 115C-552 and 115C-560 of the General Statutes, a new school must send to DNPE a notice of intent to operate and provide certain information about the school. There is no limitation in the law regarding the months of the year that DNPE will accept the notice.
The second item of the policy says that effective July 1, 2011, DNPE “will go completely automated” for submitting the homeschool notice of intent forms, driving eligibility certificate (DEC) requests, annual homeschool renewal (see below), and address changes. This means that DNPE expects all of these transactions to take place via the internet. Ever since the North Carolina homeschool law was enacted in 1988, it has been the practice for these transactions to be accomplished using regular mail or other means by which paper documents are submitted to DNPE. State law does not prescribe the method for sending required information to DNPE, and it does not authorize DNPE to exclude the submission of paper documents.
The third item of the policy states that, “Every home school must create an online profile and annually renew/update online to remain in the active database.” This means that homeschooling families who do not go to DNPE’s website every year and indicate that their school is still in operation will have their school closed by DNPE, thereby rendering them out of compliance with the compulsory attendance law. This procedure is contrary to state law in that Sections 115C-552 and 115C-560 of the General Statutes state that the school shall notify DNPE upon termination of the school. DNPE is not authorized to establish a procedure whereby the school must report annually that it is not closing.
HSLDA member families having questions about the new policy and its effect on them should contact us for assistance. Each family must decide on its own whether to voluntarily comply with aspects of the new policy not mandated by state law.