June 19, 2008
Favorable Diploma Bill Dies

An amended bill which would have required the State of Tennessee to recognize high school diplomas issued by homeschools and church-related schools died in the House Calendar and Rules Committee at the end of the 2007-2008 legislative session. Proposed by Representative Mike Bell, the amendment to House Bill 1652 regarding the diplomas was necessitated by the position of the Tennessee Department of Education that diplomas from church-related schools were worthless and insufficient for employment and admission to a postsecondary school. After the amended version of H.B. 1652 was approved by the House Education Committee, it went to the Calendar and Rules Committee where it succumbed for lack of support.

On May 5, 2008, during the time that HB 1652 was being considered, Dr. Timothy K. Webb, the commissioner of education for Tennessee, issued a memorandum stating that it was inappropriate for the department of education to issue opinions regarding the validity of diplomas from church-related schools. The policy memorandum instructed department of education employees to render no opinion to those making inquiry about the validity of these diplomas, since church-related schools are not regulated by the department of education. Unfortunately, earlier statements and opinions by department of education personnel had already done considerable harm to prospective students and employees who were relying on credentials earned from church-related schools.

Home School Legal Defense Association will continue to work with the Tennessee Home Education Association to remedy this injustice and discrimination against the thousands of students being taught by their parents in homeschools and church-related schools.