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January 19, 2007

Warwick Policy Improves Greatly with Homeschool Family Input

On January 9, the Warwick school committee adopted a new homeschool policy that is far more parent-friendly than the previous one. Here are the major changes:

1. The role of the superintendent diminished. The old policy allowed the superintendent to reject a homeschool plan. Under the new policy, his role is to simply make a recommendation.

2. Increases the role of the school committee. The old policy allowed the chairperson of the school committee to reject a homeschool plan. Under the new policy, only the school committee can reject a plan. The chairperson can accept a plan, however.

3. The contract-like “agreement” is abolished. The new policy requires only a “letter of intent.”

4. Partial improvement on progress reports. The new policy specifically acknowledges that the parent’s preference as to the type of progress report to be submitted will be respected. The old policy did not. Regrettably, the new policy fails to reduce the number of progress reports from two to one per year, as homeschoolers had requested.

5. New restrictions blocked. The new policy clearly states that administrative officials cannot create new burdens or restrictions. The old policy gave no such protection.

6. Authority to demand attendance records limited. The old policy appeared to give administrators unlimited power to demand attendance records. The new policy specifies that attendance records are to be submitted twice annually, in January and July. The new policy gives parents the freedom to use the format of their choice for the reports; the old policy required parents to use a form developed by administrators.

7. Authority to make content demands abolished. Under the old policy, an administrator demanded that families include the state content standards in their homeschool program. The new policy gives families full freedom to choose the content within the required subjects, requiring only that they list the title, author, and publisher of books to be used.

These improvements are the result of a tremendous amount of work and input from homeschoolers aided by the assistance of school committee member Joyce Andrade, herself a homeschool mom. We will look for an opportunity to abolish the unjustifiable requirement of two progress reports per year. Meanwhile, Warwick homeschoolers enjoy significantly more protection under the new policy.

Our thanks go to Joyce Andrade and all the other homeschool moms and dads who worked to bring about these improvements. We salute the families who stood for what was right and resisted improper demands, even when they might have been faced with prosecution. We acknowledge the cooperation of administrative officials who agreed they would not initiate legal action against such families pending final action on the new policy.

It is our general recommendation that families who have not been “approved” for this year promptly follow the steps outlined in the new policy. A link to the complete policy is attached. If you believe your situation requires individualized legal advice, please contact us.

 Other Resources

Complete West Warwick Homeschooling Policy Text (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)