June 26, 2003

Proposed Change to Homeschooling Regulations

Maryland Department of Education

The Maryland Department of Education originally proposed a rule that would require homeschoolers to file an assurance of consent notice every year. The latest version of the rule changes is not quite as restrictive. (See details below.)

The Maryland Board of Education passed these new rules on June 24, 2003.

Requested Action:
None at this time.

HSLDA's Postion:
HSLDA is never in favor of imposing greater restrictions on homeschool families. The new rules clearly do that, although the burden would have been greater had we not moved the Department to retreat from its original demand. We believe the proposed regulations, however, are the best possible outcome for the near term.

The Department invited six homeschool representatives to attend two meetings with several local and state public education representatives. A majority of those attending the meetings ultimately decided to recommend that the Board of Education adopt the changes.

Summary of Changes:

  1. Every year (after the year in which the family files the one-time assurance of consent), the family must notify the supervising non-public institution or the local superintendent as to whether the child will continue in a home instruction program. This can be done in person, by a phone call or letter, or any other method.

  2. If parents who are operating under county supervision decide to switch to operating under a non-public institution, they must notify the local superintendent.

  3. If parents who are operating under a non-public institution decide to switch to operating under either a different non-public institution or under the supervision of the local superintendent, the parents must notify their current non-public institution.

  4. If you are operating a non-public institution that supervises the instruction of homeschoolers, the following summarized changes apply:

    1. Each year you must tell the local superintendent the names of the homeschool students whose instruction will commence, continue, or be discontinued, under your organization's supervision;

    2. You must notify the local superintendent if your organization's instructional supervision for a particular homeschooled student ceases during the year.

After the Department of Education threatened to adopt a rule requiring that every homeschool family file a notice of consent every year, hundreds of homeschoolers protested. More than 85 homeschoolers packed the boardroom December 3 during the time for public comment. Representatives from many homeschool organizations testified against the proposed regulation, including Julie Wesolek (Christian Home Educators Network), Gary Cox (Walkersville Christian Family Schools), Jon Shilts (Maryland Association of Christian Home Educators), Billy Greer (Maryland Home Educators Association), Bob Beller (Traditions of Roman Catholic Homes), and Scott Somerville (HSLDA). As a result, the Department agreed to slow down and discuss the issues with homeschool representatives. The Maryland State Board of Education voted on December 4 to delay any decision on the proposed new homeschool regulation until their February meeting and instructed the state department of education to create a committee composed of homeschoolers and to discuss the issues.

During the meetings, the Department agreed to make important changes to the state notice of intent form. The form will be labeled as "Confidential" and will no longer ask for the date of birth, but only month and year of birth, of the student. The title of the form will change from "Home Schooling Registration" to "Home Schooling Notice." The old form requested the race of the child, but the new form will clarify that this is optional. The form will indicate that the parent has the option of providing a telephone number or email address as an alternative method of communication.

If these changes are actually implemented, the form will be highly consistent with regulations and state law. We will review the new form when it is available to verify that the changes that were agreed to have actually been incorporated.

Other Resources:

New Regulation Text 11/6/03

Regulation Text 5/16/03

Maryland--Board Retreats from Plan to Require Annual Notice of Consent

Maryland: Tremendous Breakthrough December 4, 2002

Maryland Homeschool Rules Proposal Triggers Protest December 4, 2002

Maryland--Your Presence Needed Tomorrow at Vital Meeting December 2, 2002

Maryland--Written Comment Needed Immediately on Change to Regulations November 13, 2002

Maryland--Board of Education Tries to Change Homeschool Regulations Without Consulting Homeschoolers November 8, 2002