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Delaware

July 26, 2001

Senate Joint Resolution 9: Homeschool Review Committee

Author:
Senator Sokola

Summary:
This resolution forms a committee to review issues regarding home schooling. The committee is also responsible for issuing a report with recommendations no later than March 1, 2002.

Status:
Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 9, was passed by the Delaware General Assembly and signed by the Governor.

Requested Action:
The findings and recommendations of the committee created by SJR 9 may dramatically affect the requirements for parents teaching their children at home. Calls and letters to your legislators are needed to preserve the status of home schools as private schools and to defeat any effort to involve social services in the lives of home schooling families.

Please contact your state senator and representative with this message:

"As you know, SJR 9 creates a committee to study home schooling in Delaware. Please support efforts to preserve the historical status of home schools as private schools in our state and oppose efforts to impose any additional government restrictions on home schooling families."

You can find the names and telephone numbers of your state senator and representative by using Home School Legal Defense Association's Legislative Toolbox at http://www.hslda.org/toolbox.

Background:
On July 30, 2001, Governor Ruth Ann Minner signed SJR 9, creating a committee to study home schooling in the state of Delaware. According to the resolution, the purpose of the committee is three-fold: (1) to consider reporting requirements to the Delaware Department of Education, (2) to define non-public schools, and (3) to consider "many situations that deviate from the traditional homeschool setting that may require compliance with existing health and safety standards for children in these settings." The eight members of the committee will include the Secretary of the Department of Education or his designee; the Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services or his designee; a representative of the Childcare Licensing Section of the Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families; two representatives of the home school community appointed by the Governor; a representative of the Delaware Association of Independent Schools appointed by the Governor; one member of the Senate; and one member of the House of Representatives. The committee must report its findings to the Governor, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Secretary of the Department of Education by March 1, 2002.

Creation of the committee came about after an unsuccessful effort by the Department of Education to change the law for how home schools report enrollment and attendance. That effort, Senate Bill 165, would have removed home schools from the category of private schools and possibly subjected home schools to whatever reporting requirements the Department of Education prescribed. Due to the effective lobbying efforts of the Delaware Home Educators Association, this bill was placed on hold in the Senate Education Committee.

Current state law requires private schools to report enrollment on forms created by the Department of Education. Current law also requires home school associations and organizations to register with the Department. Because no particular registration form for home schools is prescribed by state law, HSLDA has developed a form to assist our members in such registration. In addition, we have developed a form for use by our members' home school students who are not affiliated with a registered association or organization, but who are being instructed under the auspices of the local public school superintendent. You may download these forms for your use at http://members.hslda.org/state/DE/default.asp. As always, HSLDA recommends that our Delaware members avoid reporting requirements as an individual family by enrolling their children in an established private school for students receiving home instruction.

The study to be conducted by the SJR 9 committee is both an opportunity and a challenge. It is an opportunity to clarify that home schools in Delaware are private schools, which is how they have operated since the revival of home schooling in the early 1980's. It is also a challenge to limit the reporting requirements for home schools to enrollment and attendance information, the same information required of other private schools. Given the participation of the Department of Health and Social Services and the Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families on the SJR 9 committee, it is inevitable that recommendations will be made to involve these state agencies in home education. This presents a further challenge to home school representatives on the committee who desire to preserve the freedom from state involvement now enjoyed by home educators in Delaware.

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