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After what might be called the “second battle of Monmouth”, Brookdale Community College (aka County College of Monmouth) has changed its policies and will now allow high school-level homeschoolers to take classes.
For many years, Brookdale was friendly to homeschoolers. Families used it as a resource to dual enroll and supplement their high school programs. Then for reasons not clearly understood, Brookdale slammed the door shut. However, they continued to allow public school students who had not yet finished high school to enroll (referred to as their “Fast Start” program).
In June of 2003, Home School Legal Defense Association’s Chris Klicka wrote a letter on behalf of a member family asking Brookdale to reverse its policy. Klicka explained that federal policy had recently changed for the purpose of easing homeschoolers’ access to college. Brookdale would not budge.
In February of 2005, HSLDA’s Scott Woodruff knocked on the door again. He wrote a letter to Brookdale pointing out that they were the only county college in New Jersey requiring high school-age homeschoolers to have a GED before enrolling. He explained that not even the most prestigious colleges in the nation require homeschoolers to have a GED. Receiving no response, Woodruff wrote again in April.
Then the door opened a crack. The Brookdale registrar responded to Woodruff’s letter and said they were reviewing their policies toward high school-age homeschoolers. She added that HSLDA’a previous letters would be helpful as the review went forward. She cautioned that the process could be lengthy. Local homeschoolers actively pressed the issue with state and local officials.
Finally, in May 2006, Brookdale abolished its discriminatory policy. Its new regulations allow homeschoolers to enroll on an equal footing with others. High school-age homeschoolers are now permitted to enroll in up to two courses if they are 15 years of age, have completed the 9th grade, earn an adequate score on a placement test or SAT, and the parent or guardian gives approval.
Although welcome, the new policy does not erase the disappointment of families who were unfairly denied access during the “closed door” years. Nevertheless, we can be hopeful that homeschoolers will make such contributions at Brookdale that officials will never again consider taking the keys away.