March 12, 2003

Maryland Board Retreats from Annual Notification Plan

On February 25, 2003 the Maryland Board of Education voted to retreat from its plan to force families to file a notice of consent form every year. It will however, move forward with other, less drastic changes to the homeschool regulations. A summary of the changes the board will pursue can be found at:

The Department of Education will formally publish the proposed changes in the coming weeks and will invite the public to offer comments, after which we anticipate it will put the proposed rules into effect.

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. As a result, the Department agreed to slow down and discuss the issues with homeschool representatives.

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 above.

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.

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.