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Legislative Session Includes Changes to School Age Law
Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt answers questions and assists members with legal issues in New York. He and his wife homeschool their children. Read more >>
As is normally the case, the New York Legislature has introduced thousands of bills for consideration. The Assembly has over 9,200 bills alone. HSLDA attempts to monitor all New York legislation and track those bills that impact homeschoolers. When appropriate we notify our members of bills the require action. For the 2013-2014 session we tracked several bills that could have impacted homeschool freedom or parental rights. Here is some information on a few of those bills.
Assembly Bill 8567: This bill would have lowered the compulsory school attendance age in the Buffalo School District to 3 years and 9 months (4 by December 1). While you could elect to not enroll your child until the next school year, every child would have had to be in school by 4 years and 9 months.
Assembly Bill 10002/Senate Bill 7347: In one day, the New York Assembly substituted SB 7347 for AB 10002 and passed the bill. This bill holds that children who are enrolled in Buffalo public schools at 5 years old are compulsory attendance age. Syracuse, Rochester, and New York City already make it compulsory for 5-year-olds enrolled in the public school to attend all year. Parents in all of these cities are not required to enroll their children in school until 6. However, once enrolled, these 5-year-olds are compulsory school age.
Assembly Bill 5786/Senate Bill 5056: These bills would have lowered the compulsory school attendance age in the Rockland and Westchester counties to 4 years and 9 months (5 by December 1). As the bill is currently written, parents could elect to wait and enroll their child in school when they will be 6 by December 1.
Assembly Bill 8773 would create the Office of Prekindergarten and Early Learning Education.
Assembly Bill 8787/Senate Bill 282: These bills would have required a certificate of good school attendance in order to obtain a driver’s license or learner’s permit for everyone under the age of 18 unless they have a high school diploma or equivalent diploma. It is unclear if a letter of substantial equivalency would be sufficient.
These certificates would be issued by the school the student attends. Since a student attending a home instruction program in New York is not considered to be attending a “school” it is unclear what would happen when the student is taught at home. It is very possible that homeschool students would be at the mercy of their local school officials when seeking a driver’s license or learner’s permit.
Assembly Bill 497/Senate Bill 3134: These bills would have permitted any health care practitioner to administer the HPV vaccine to any child under the age of 18 without parental consent or knowledge.
Senate Bill 142: Under this bill every parent would have been required to complete four parenting workshops before his or her child could graduate from the 6th grade and advance to the 7th grade. The Board of Regents would develop guidelines for the content of 12 parenting workshops that a parent would choose from. One of the four required workshops would have to cover the subject of physical, emotional and sexual abuse of children.
Senate Bill 286 would allow homeschool students to career education classes at their local BOCES. The parent would have to submit a written request to their local board of education before June 1 in order to have their child participate the following school year.
Senate Bill 1715/Assembly Bill 6814: Under these bills the local board of education would have been prohibited from preventing homeschool student from participating in the district’s interscholastic sports activities. The bill would also have required the board of education to make provision for homeschool students to participate in these activities.
Assembly Bill 5711: This bill would have allowed homeschool students to participate in both interscholastic athletics activities and driver’s education, if offered, in their resident school district. If there were any fees generally association with the driver’s education course the homeschool student would have to pay them in order to participate.
Senate Bill 6808: Under this bill a parent would have been able to claim a credit for homeschool instructional materials. The maximum credit allowed would be $100. In addition, the New York State Education Department or Board of Regents would need to approve the purchase of instructional materials to be claimed for the credit. It is unclear if the type of instructional material would have to be approved or the actual purchase.
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