October 30, 2008

Free Driver Education Threatened

The Delaware Secretary of Education has proposed an amendment to the current administrative regulations which would strip homeschoolers of the right to free driver education.

The statutory law enacted by the Delaware General Assembly provides that all students residing within a school district are entitled to free driver education during the summer months. Current regulations of the State Board of Education appropriately implement this provision of state law by stating that students attending private and parochial academies and homeschool students “are entitled to attend summer driver education without charge.” However, the proposed amendment would change the regulations to provide that only public school students would continue to receive free driver education. All other students would have to pay tuition, which at this time is stated by the Department of Education to be $362.00.

Not only is the proposed amendment contrary to the statutory law of Delaware, it raises serious constitutional questions regarding this discriminatory treatment of nonpublic school students by the state. We believe that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the type of unfair dissemination of services which would result from this change in the regulations.

In a legislative alert to Home School Legal Defense Association member families in Delaware, we urged homeschoolers to voice their opposition to the proposed amendment by the deadline of October 6, 2008. At press time, the State Board of Education has made no decision on the proposal.