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South Dakota

July 28, 2011
New A.I. Form Squares with Law, Fixes Past Errors

A new alternative instruction form is now online that lines up well with recent legislation that makes a family’s excuse from public school attendance effective immediately upon filing. The form is available on HSLDA’s website.

While it is still labeled “Application for Public School Exemption,” the form’s next line says, “...as soon as a family files this application, it immediately becomes effective. No approval action is required by the school board.” There is still a place for the signature of the school board president, but it follows this explanatory language: “Confirmation of receipt by the district (not required for approval.)”

The box of small print in the upper left corner of the form which patronizingly asked parents to affirm “... that we recognize our responsibility for all the statutory requirements of the education of our children...” is gone.

In previous years, the form failed to clearly indicate that birth certificate information, etc., was due only the first time an application for exemption was filed for a child. This has now been corrected.

There is no race question on the form. We have fought battles for years when the Department of Education tried to get racial information from families. Sometimes they said it was mandatory. Sometimes they said it was optional. But we kept pushing back, and now it is completely gone.

Our thanks go to Maureen Dowling, director of the Office of Non-Public Education, United States Department of Education. She wrote a letter confirming that there is no federal reason to collect racial information about homeschool families. Her letter was instrumental in getting racial questions removed completely from the form.

Our thanks also go to Dr. Melody Schopp, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Education. She was supportive, cordial and efficient from the drafting of the new legislation all the way through implementation.

The leadership team of the South Dakota Christian Home Educators provided powerful and effective advocacy for these changes. The fruit of their efforts will bless South Dakota families for many years to come. Freedom is the winner.