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North Dakota

September 12, 2007

2007 Legislative Wrap-Up

During the 2007 legislative session in North Dakota, Home School Legal Defense Association tracked a number of bills affecting the rights of parents who educate their children at home.

In a bizarre series of events, Senate Bill 2371, which started off as a good bill, then was amended by the Senate Education Committee to become a bad bill, then amended again to become a good bill as it passed the full Senate, became a bad bill again and was finally voted down in the House of Representatives on March 16, 2007.

As originally introduced, Senate Bill 2371 would have changed the law to permit grandparents and foster parents to homeschool, to clarify that homeschool students only have to take the basic battery of standardized tests, and to permit parents to choose a test that was not nationally normed. As amended by the House Education Committee, the bill would not have even permitted grandparents to homeschool and would have added even more restrictions to state law.

This was a disappointing experience for home educators in North Dakota who were seeking only minor improvements in the current law. It points out that proposed legislation can go in any direction before its final outcome. Had it not been for the outcry of homeschoolers objecting to the unfavorable amendments, North Dakota could have gotten an even worse law than it has now.

Senate Bill 2184 would have raised North Dakota’s compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18. If this bill had passed, home educators would have had to comply with North Dakota’s burdensome homeschool law for an additional two years. Due to opposition from homeschoolers, this bill failed to pass the Senate Education Committee. Attempts to pass the bill through the full Senate were unsuccessful, as the bill failed to pass by a three to one margin.

Senate Bill 2414 would have provided a tax credit of $1,000 for each child receiving home education. This bill failed to pass out of the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee.

As originally introduced, Senate Bill 2309 would have prohibited any North Dakota student from graduating from high school or being admitted to college without completing a college preparatory curriculum. Due in large measure to the outcry of homeschoolers, this bill was amended to simply increase the number of units required for graduation. This bill was signed into law by the governor on May 4, 2007.

House Bill 1136, signed into law on April 12, 2007, added pneumococcal disease, meningococcal disease, rotavirus , and hepatitis A to the list of diseases for which immunizations are required for school children, including students receiving home instruction. Parents must obtain a certification from a licensed physician or representative from the state department of health that the child has received the required immunizations. This certification is then filed by the parent with the local school district. Fortunately, state law still provides for medical, religious, philosophical, and moral exemptions from the immunizations.