Category Archives: Local Laws

Still here…

I apologize for dropping off the face of the blogosphere for the last few weeks.  I’ve been busy with other projects, but most of all, I have rights and responsibilities, Corn and Oilbeen preoccupied  helping my youngest get ready to move away to college and away from home for the first time.   My last post before my brief respite, was “Let Them Be Little” and I posted it in honor of the gift of time that homeschooling gave us.  We have enjoyed  countless moments,  hours and years that have blessed our lives.

I’m reformatting things a bit, and won’t always be posting daily, but I still look forward to exploring  and sharing great resources here with you.

One great resource is Susan Ryan’s Corn and Oil Blog.  Susan remains a tireless advocate and really understands the importance of knowing your rights and that responsibly protecting them gives each family the freedom to live and learn in a way that best meets their needs.  She has an important post up this week, Don’t Write These Laws on Our Children that you won’t want to miss.

— Mary

Ohio S.B.E’s Review of Home Education Rules Complete

The Ohio State Board of Education’s recent review of the Ohio Administrative Code 3301:34-01-08, Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education is now complete.  I wrote  OH State Board of Education to discuss homeschool rules in September and before that I explained that an Ohio Department of Education spokesperson stated that despite the warnings by some groups, there were no specific plans to change our laws in this Ohio Homeschool Regulation Review.

There were minor changes made to our  code that  reflect updates within other areas of Ohio law concerning teachers and an outdated reference to testing, but there were no other changes made.

On January 13, 2009, The Ohio Register of Ohio posted their No-Change Filings that included part of Ohio Administrative Code, Chapter 3301-34, Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education. These were:

no-change

The two other sections not included above, 3301:34-01 and 3301:34:04 have been brought up to date to comply with other areas of the code.   These were filed  under Recently Adopted Rules With an Action Filed on 01/13/2009 and were shown at the Ohio Register as well:

amended

I will be updating these specific changes  within the  Ohio Administrative Code, Chapter 3301-34, Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education,  The Written Narrative Assessment Form and The Achievement Testing Form at  Ohio Home Educators’ Network (OHEN)  shortly.

For those who are interested, the old code along with the minor  changes are listed below and are illustrated via strikethrough or an underline:

3301-34-01 Definitions.

The following terms are defined as they are used in this chapter.

(A) “Licensed or certified Certified teacher” means a person who holds a valid Ohio teaching license or certificate, excluding the certificate issued under section 3301.071 of the Revised Code.

(B) “Home education” means education primarily directed and provided by the parent or guardian of a child under division (A)(2) of section 3321.04 of the Revised Code which child is of compulsory school age and is not enrolled in a nonpublic school.

(C) “Parent” means a parent, guardian or other person having charge or care of a child as defined by section 3321.01 of the Revised Code.

(D) “School district of residence” means the public school district within which the parent resides.

(E) “Superintendent” means the superintendent of schools of the city, county, or exempted village school district in which the parent resides.

and

3301-34-04 Academic assessment.

(A) The parent(s) shall send to the superintendent an academic assessment report of the child for the previous school year at the time of supplying subsequent notification.

(B) The academic assessment report shall include one of the following:

(1) Results of a nationally normed, standardized achievement test which meets the requirements set forth in rule 3301-12-02 of the Administrative Code.

(a)   Such test shall be administered by:

(i) A licensed or certified teacher; or

(ii) Another person mutually agreed upon by the parent(s) and the superintendent; or

(iii) A person duly authorized by the publisher of the test.

(b) Results should demonstrate reasonable proficiency as compared to other children in the district at the same grade level. Any child that has a composite score at or above the twenty-fifth percentile shall be deemed to be performing at a level of reasonable proficiency.

(2) A written narrative indicating that a portfolio of samples of the child’s work has been reviewed and that the child’s academic progress for the year is in accordance with the child’s abilities.

(a) The written narrative shall be prepared by:

(i) A licensed or certified teacher; or

(ii) Other person mutually agreed upon by the parent(s) and the superintendent.

(b) The parent(s) shall be responsible for the payment of fees charged for preparation of the narrative.

(3) An alternative academic assessment of the child’s proficiency mutually agreed upon by the parent and the superintendent.

Now that this review is complete, Ohio home educators  may want to  consider following education and other issues relevant to homeschooling to maintain and protect our freedoms.


Ohio State Board of Education Meeting – September 2008

Several homeschoolers attended the Ohio State Board of Education Meeting yesterday (Sept. 8th, 2008) to hear what the Ohio Department of Education was going to suggest concerning the regularly scheduled five year review of Ohio Home Education Rules.

Kim Murnieks spoke briefly about the Ohio Department of Education’s intent concerning our regulations. Here is a brief summary of what she had to say:

Ms. Murnieks said there were two suggested amendments to the regulations and that these changes will bring Chapter 3301-34 Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education 3301-34- 01Definitions and 3301-34-04 Acadmic Assessment up to date.

Pertaining to both rules, Ms. Murnieks stated that they  want to update certified teacher to include licensed teacher to reflect changes in the code that involves teachers.   Teachers are  licensed these days and they want the language to reflect that.

3301-04-04 must be updated due to the reference to nationally normed tests because this citation – 3301-12-02 that is included in that section was rescinded in 1996.

Chapter 3301-34 Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education. 3301-34-02, 3301-34-03, 3301-34-05,3301-34-06 will be filed with JCARR for no changes.

The updated text will be compiled for 3301-34-01 and 3301-34-04 and submitted at the October Ohio State Board of Education Meeting.  Those rules will be filed in November and there will be a public hearing on these in December.  Final rules will be adopted in January 2009.

Co-Chairman Ann Womer Benjamin asked about the public comments that had been gathered.  Ms. Murnieks responded that they received over 8,000 comments, mostly  from parents expressing  satisfaction with the rules.  At this point, I believe that she reiterated that the plan is to correct the 2 technical rules and bring them up to date.  There is a transcript of the meeting here.

Yesterday was step one of the process, so Ohio homeschoolers  may  want to continue to follow and make sure that they are comfortable with the language that will be used to update Chapter 3301-34 Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education 3301-34- 01Definitions and 3301-34-04 Acadmic Assessment that will be presented to the Ohio State School Board in October and sent to JCARR in November.   Before the language is finalized, homeschoolers willhave the opportunity to  attend the public meeting in December to provide our input, if necessary.

OH State Board of Education to discuss homeschool rules…

The Ohio State Board of Education has their agenda listed at the OSBE website and it states that they will be discussing Rules 3301-34-01 and -04.  It has been explained that they are looking to address  two particular sections because there are citations within those that are outdated that need updating.

These would be:

From section  3301-34-01:

(A) “Certified teacher” means a person who holds a valid Ohio teaching certificate, excluding the certificate issued under section 3301.071 of the Revised Code.

As I understand it, the law regarding certified teachers has been changed, so they must update this to match the change.

From section 3301-34-04

(1) Results of a nationally normed, standardized achievement test which meets the requirements set forth in rule 3301-12-02 of the Administrative Code.

3301-12-02 of the O.A.C. was eliminated when public school testing rules changed.  If  you visit the O.A.C and read the present section  3301-12-02 of the O.A.C., you will see that it refers to superintendent issues and no longer has anything to do with testing.

If you click on this link, you will be taken to the Ohio SBE website. Once you are there, you can find the agenda within their Sept. 8th date, by clicking on Time  Schedule.  This will open up as a PDF.  If you don’t have the free Adobe Software to open PDFs, you can download the free Adobe Reader here.

Here is the section of the meeting  that pertains to us:

2:45 p.m.

75 minutes

Achievement Committee Meeting – Delaware Room

Outcomes:

• To discuss Rules 3301-34-01 and -04, Home Education Rules

• To hear an update from the International Education Advisory Committee

Co-chairs:
Mike Cochran and Ann Womer Benjamin

Committee Members:
Virgil Brown, Jr., Colleen Grady, Heather Heslop Licata, Eric Okerson, Steve Millett and Emerson Ross

Lead Staff:

Curriculum and Assessment
Stan Heffner, Associate Superintendent, Center for Curriculum and Assessment

Staff:
Diana Branham, Kim Murnieks and Donna Nesbitt

I also learned that my public records request is on its way.  There were 8,000+ comments, some of them from homeschoolers and some from districts.

I will offer a report here after I receive my public records request and after attending the meeting.

Ohio Homeschool Regulation Review

This month, the Ohio Department of Education has started the process of preparing to review our regulations. Part of that preparation includes the department accepting comments from stakeholders at their site concerning Ohio Administrative Code, Chapter 3301-34 Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education. These rules have served my family and many others well since 1989. This is the first time since the rules and regulations were enacted that the Ohio Department of Education has facilitated this type of formal review. This code was written in 1989 and it amplifies the law that governs Ohio homeschooling, Ohio Revised Code 3321.04. The code clearly states Its purpose:

The purpose of the rules in this chapter is to prescribe conditions governing the issuance of excuses from school attendance under section 3321.04 of the Revised Code, to provide for the consistent application thereof throughout the state by superintendents, and to safeguard the primary right of parents to provide the education for their child(ren). Home education must be in accordance with law.

I am encouraged by the fact that many individual homeschoolers and local homeschool groups in Ohio are united in recommending that the Ohio Department of Education keep our regulations as they are. After the Ohio Department of Education collects the stakeholder comments, they will gather and pass them along to the Ohio State Board of Education Capacity Committee for review. The committee will then make recommendations to the State School Board as to make changes or not.

Since first hearing of the review, I have said that I am hoping for the best, but I’ll be prepared for the worst. Some in our community feel that the ODE will be suggesting changes. It isn’t that I don’t believe this, I just can’t document that they are intending to do so. In fact, in this Columbus Dispatch blog post, Jennifer Smith Richards writes that over 1200 responses had come in by July 19th and that an Ohio Department of Education spokesperson stated that despite the warnings by some groups, there are no specific plans to change our laws.

Those who know me well understand that when it comes to research, I prefer to document the information I’m studying, especially when it might affect my rights or those of others. Before children, I was a Biblical research student and I learned the importance of finding a chapter and verse, understanding where it originated, the context it was used and who it was written to, for myself instead of relying on someone else’s interpretation. Over the years, I’ve applied this same method of investigation to other areas of my life.

As a homeschooler, I’ve learned the importance of knowing my rights and responsibilities as well as, if not better than others so that if someone subtly tries to change a right, I will be able to recognize the change. I certainly look to experts when I need them, but when I hear speculation that might affect me, I want to know where it originated and if I need to simply watch it or begin taking action. If it can’t be documented, I will still keep watching, but I don’t move until I’m sure.

These days most of us are familiar with weather terminology, especially here in Oho where we face the occasional tornado. I would compare our situation as being under a State School Board review watch. We should be prepared as conditions are favorable and could result in a request for changes, but no documented changes have been shared by the many SBE watchers. If we move to a documented warning, I am sure that we will be prepared, remain calm and be able to stand together to protect our freedoms with other individuals around our state.

Gymnastic Approach to Considering a Homeschooler Truant by Sue Duncan

Threatening home educators with truancy is not new, but it is certainly intimidating to be faced with the police authority of the state. Home educators should understand the contorted thinking involved in considering a notifying homeschooler truant…not to mention the inanity and waste of taxpayer dollars diverting time, money, manpower and focus from legitimate issues of truancy in a school district. (How many high school kids are bunking school and sneaking around the mall while the district chases down your 4th-grader? A good question to ask a school board.)

Truancy does not make sense in terms of the homeschooling notification process and district lamentations about “education.”

Follow me – the thinking goes something like this:

“They are not being educated – therefore they need to be in school while the superintendent ‘approves’ their notification. We have a responsibility to all our children – our mission is to see that they all get a good education.” (Ask them what their dropout rate is?)

So…an attendance officer shows up at your door and charges you with truancy.

However…the statute which they use to pursue parents is that of compulsory ATTENDANCE, not compulsory education.

Okay…so the child is not in school and therefore not attending…uh-oh… the superintendent may have a point.

But wait…back up a minute. Did you notify? Well, of course you did – that’s what precipitated the truancy threat.

Well…why do we have to notify anyway?

Under ORC 3321.04, the superintendent has a responsibility to know where children of compulsory ages (6-18 y/o) are in his district; this is his regulatory obligation.

When a parent notifies of his intention to home educate he enables the superintendent to fulfill this statutory burden. The superintendent NOW knows where this child is – where he is ATTENDING. He can do his job under compulsory attendance statute.

Remember: this process is called “NOTIFICATION. ” (OAC 3301-34-03)

Notify: “…to give notice to; to inform;”

Inform: “…to give knowledge of something; to tell.”

Keep in mind that the regulations were approved and adopted by the State Board of Education after a year of research, discussion and debate. They did not call it a “Permission to Commit Home Education;” or “Application to Home Educate.” They were specific in their use of words…both in the regulations and in the state-created notification form. They understood the meaning and the difference between notifying and asking permission. They made this process about notifying -not requesting.

Example:

Requesting: Mom, may I dye my hair purple?

Notifying: Don’t worry, Mom; it washes out.

Okay..the superintendent says: “I have to ‘approve’ your request and you must have my permission before you can homeschool.”

The obvious question is WHY?

If this whole process of truancy is about ATTENDANCE – why would the superintendent have to approve my notification before I begin homeschooling? Once I have advised the superintendent where my child will be educated, where he will attend is assured. What requires approval?

Take it apart:

Notification items 1, 2, 3 and 4 are vital statistics; Items 5, 8, and 9 are assurances – merely requiring a checkmark or “yes” notation. Item 10 is a parent signature affirming the provided data. Item 6 and 7 – usually the most troublesome for homeschoolers and school districts – asks that an intended curriculum and list of resources be provided…and very clearly specifies: “For informational purposes only.” (Go above to read definition of “inform.”)

None of the requirements need approval. They are vital statistics or agreements, or a signature. The curriculum and list of resources are “intended” and this may change during the year. In truth, given the reality of most homeschooling lives, they often do. AND NO ONE CHECKS AT THE END OF THE YEAR TO SEE IF THIS HAS BEEN FOLLOWED THROUGH. So, what’s the sense of reviewing these other than the reason intended by the State Board of Education- that is, the parent has planned for the academic year (curriculum) and this is what will be used (resource list).

Academic assessment of parental choice is provided upon subsequent notifications; submissions of work product or full test scores are not required; it is merely required that children meet a particular assessment standard; parents control this process. (Caution should exercised if choosing the third assessment option since it may require more from a parent than is appropriate or wise and the assessment standard is undetermined.)

What is necessary for approval or permission other than to see that ALL the required data has been supplied? A check-off procedure at most. That is what compliance is about: ” If the superintendent, upon review of the information, determines that it is in compliance with all requirements set forth in paragraph (A)[notification items] of this rule, the superintendent shall notify the parent(s) in writing that the child is excused from school attendance for the remainder of the current school year.” (OAC 3301-34-03(A)(C)(1) )

Check it out. The superintendent only needs to check that all the required info is supplied – that is it! Nothing in this rule authorizes his review for academic adequacy, appropriateness or quality. And, remember, you do not supply grade level – so how could he make this determination in any event? Believe me…after a year of debate and discussion about home education regulations and the further discussion by the State Board of Education (SBE) prior to adoption, one can imagine that if judgment of educational quality, adequacy and appropriateness was the intention of the home education regulations, this would have been CLEARLY and SPECIFICALLY stated. It is not.

Indeed, the opposite can be understood. Take a look at the regulations…the notification section and even the SBE-created form: they demonstrate the thinking here that a parent could be trusted to provide the education for his/her child/wren…and that their word was their bond. NO PROOFS ARE REQUIRED in the regulations. We do not have to prove our residency, that 900 hours will be provided, our minimal educational background (e.g., we do not supply a copy of our high school diploma), or have a notary certify our signature and make us swear to provide the “intended” curriculum, etc. At the end of the year, an academic assessment is provided which demonstrates a particular assessment goal. No one certifies the qualifications of the evaluating teacher or the test-provider; nor is further evidence or schoolwork supplied to the district; it is understood that determining the certifying teacher or test-giver is appropriately qualified is the responsibility of the parent. Remember that signature of affirmation? It is a solemn declaration by the parent regarding the provided information.

Keep in mind: the regulations are entitled: Rules for Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education. Why then must we PROVE that an education will take place in order to receive an excuse from COMPULSORY ATTENDANCE?

If neither homeschoolers nor any of the other school options available must prove academics, even more puzzling is the notion that a child be required to sit in a school while a superintendent “approves” the parent’s notification. Think about this: A child who sits in school – takes up space, time, effort, manpower, money – all the while knowing s/he will not be attending there. What kind of effort do you think that child will expend? How much “education” will that child receive?

AND…while sitting idly in this school -this compelled attendance does not guarantee education – in fact, it actually interferes with the child’s education – keeping him away from the source of his education -his home and parent/s.

So, why the threat of truancy? It is not to ensure an education for the child. The superintendent has already fulfilled his job requirement of knowing where the child is being educated. If required information is missing, a parent can simply provide that information when informed in writing by the superintendent that he needs to do so. It makes no sense to take a child away from his education, which is taking place in his home, while the parent completes the process.

REMEMBER: home education is a legal and equal educational option in Ohio. That means that it cannot be treated differently from other options; therefore, one could ask: If your child was attending Washington Elementary and decided to attend St. Mary’s, would she be required to sit at Washington Elementary until such time as the superintendent “approved” the transfer? NO! Neither the other way around. So why would a homeschooler be required to do so? Might this be considered a special privilege or immunity given to the other educational options in Ohio NOT given to home educators? Could it be that home educators are not being treated equally? Such actions are strictly prohibited by the Ohio Constitution.

The purpose section of the regulations wherein the specific intention of these regulations is clearly stated – no equivocation or room for misunderstanding: “… to safeguard the primary right of parents to provide the education for their child(ren). …” The PRIMARY right of parent(s) – not the school district or the superintendent – but the PARENT. (OAC 3301-34-02)

And…guess what? These are YOUR children – not the state’s; the superintendent has obligations, yes; but they are limited and specific and set by statute. And, you have rights and responsibilities. Comply as required and you are entitled by these regulations -which have the force of law – to home educate, without prejudice. Pursuing home educators, who have appropriately complied, with threats of truancy is prejudicial.

So…ask yourself -what’s truancy about with home educators?

Education? No.

Attendance? No.

Legitimacy? No.

Responsibility? No.

What then?

Ignorance… ?

Misunderstanding…?

Prejudice ?

Harassment…?

What can you do? Okay…you could contact an attorney and have him write a letter on your behalf to the school district. Personally, this would not be my first choice. If we consider that we have chosen home education because we believe that we can best provide our children with their education, it only makes sense to take the next step and protect our homeschooling rights ourselves. What can be more important than maintaining the freedoms to be thus involved in our children’s lives?

Before you resort to an attorney, first consider contacting the school district or your local school board yourself and communicating with them – providing them with a face of homeschooling that they may not have considered. Homeschoolers are real people who are educated about their rights and responsibilities; they are reasonable, calm and thoughtful; they are not militant or aggressive, but educated and involved. Might this education process be one that aids your homeschooling community – even if only to get the district thinking about the things discussed here.

And…there’s always the local school board. Putting a real face on homeschooling – courteous, respectful, well-reasoned, thoughtful and concerned. School districts constantly complain about the lack of funds, yet now they are spending precious taxpayer dollars – diverting staff, effort, $$$, from legitimate issues facing a district to pursue a homeschooler choosing a legal and educational option? Might this be of concern to you both as a home educator and a taxpaying citizen?

Gather those in your homeschooling community and speak with them about this issue and strategies that you might employ cooperatively to educate both your community and your school district officials. Spread the word.

If you have not read the article on truancy – on this website under Challenges-What to Do…you might choose to do so.

Also…check out the notification fact sheet and the Legal Opinion and Addendum Fact Sheets – which addresses the equal treatment issue- on the OHEC website: http://grafixbynix.com/OHEC/

Prepared and Submitted by Susan M. DuncanÓ, August, 2001

Please do not reprint for publication or distribution with prior permission

USING THE DISTRICT-CREATED FORM by Sue Duncan

  • You do NOT have to use a form of any sort for notification. The manner in which you present the notification information is entirely up to you. Just be sure all required information is provided.
  • It is recommended that you use the state-generated form, if you use one at all. It is suggested that you do NOT use district-created forms since they may contain changes which would alter the requirements or the intent of the home education regulations.
  • You cannot be denied an excuse from compulsory attendance for not using a form, the district’s or otherwise.

It is suggested that parents, under no circumstances, use the forms provided by their districts since these are likely to contain word changes that alter the regulations in whole or in part. Provide your information on either the “state-generated” form which you may obtain from any homeschooling group, advocate, Ohio homeschooling website, or provide the required information in the form of a letter. Using a district-generated form merely perpetuates the errors, raises the bar of expectation for every other homeschooler and cedes authority to the district to which it is not entitled.

The regulations themselves provide us with instruction in this regard: OAC 3301-34-03(B)

“The information required in paragraph (A) of this rule may be provided on a form prescribed by the superintendent of public instruction.” There is only ONE superintendent of public instruction; neither your district superintendent – nor his designee – is THE superintendent of public instruction. That person works for the Department of Education in Columbus, Ohio.

Examples of information which districts may ask for in their own generated forms which are not required by the regulations are: grade level, titles of textbooks, table of contents of textbooks, school district name, and provision of the notification information to a designee instead of the superintendent as required.

(Please visit the website for detailed information as to why grade level, textbook titles, etc are not required for the home education notification.)

Furthermore, the home education regulations meet state’s mandate of compulsory attendance. School districts may not increase, delete from, or alter the home education regulations. In the Ohio Department of Education Questions and Answers Regarding Home Education, June, 1993 , to all superintendents :

Question 13: Are the requirements in Rule 3301-34-03 just minimum standards that local districts may make more restrictive? Answer: No. These rules of the State Board carry the same effect as law, and school districts may not add to these requirements.

And, in the same document from the Ohio Department of Education to all superintendents:

Question 16. Must the parents provide the notification on a form supplied by the State Department of Education? Answer: No. The standards say that the parent may use a form supplied by the State Department of Education. They may use their own forms, or may simply notify by a narrative document. A copy of the suggested Ohio Home Education form is enclosed.

It is not necessary nor is it recommended that you use a district-provided form; you may not be denied an excuse from compulsory attendance because you decline to use a district form. You may provide the required notification information in any format you chose or you may use the state-created form*; the key is to provide ALL the required information and provide it to the appropriate superintendent.

You can obtain a copy of the state-created form from any Ohio homeschooling website. This website also contains a copy of the state-generated form under the Notification section.

Prepared and Submitted by Susan M. DuncanÓ , May, 2001

Do not reprint for publication or distribution without prior permission

Telephone or Personal Contact by the School District INSTEAD of Written Communication by Sue Duncan

Under no circumstances should a home educator ever accept telephone contact from the school district. It is NOTsufficient for the school district to inform the parent/s by telephone contact of any respect in which the parent is non-compliant with the home education regulations (OAC 3301-34, Rules for Excuses for Compulsory Attendance for Home Education) that is, has not provided required information. Neither the parent nor the school district has sufficient documentary proof that such contact was made and/or received, nor does verbal contact provide the home educator with documentary protection with respect to his/her response. The same would be true of personal contact.

Further, a telephone or personal contact does not stop the 14-calendar day clock running on the regulatory burden of the superintendent to notify IN WRITING of any respects in which information is missing. (OAC 3301-34-03(C)(2) )

In summary, “The Purpose Statement of the regulations (OAC 3301-34-02) clearly states that the purpose of these regulations is to ‘…provide for consistent application by superintendents throughout the state…’ This purpose could not be achieved if individual districts were permitted to develop or use forms, guidelines or procedures that are not strictly in harmony with the language of the regulations. ” (_Home Education: Answers for Ohio Parents_, Diane Fessler, p. 46). Therefore, the district cannot expect – nor should a home educator – that telephone contact procedures satisfy the requirements of the regulations.

A good rule of thumb: Should a district contact a home educator by telephone, the homeschooler should politely but firmly request that all communications, now and in the future, be in writing, as is required by the home education regulations. This will give the homeschooler the opportunity to carefully review the district’s request, consult with a homeschooling advocate or support group-if necessary, and respond to the appropriateness of the request.

All home educator’s communications to the school district should be in writing and sent certified mail, return receipt requested. Copies of all communications with a school district should be retained by the home educator.

Prepared and Submitted by S.M. Duncan©, 05/2000

Please do not reprint for publication or distribution without prior permission

—————————————–

1 – Not additional information, but information which the parent/s did not include and which is required – known as “missing information.” The district may not ask for expansion, augmentation, or addition to information provided. If the parent failed to provide required information, for example, the child’s birthdate, or assurance that 900 minimum hours of home education would be provided, that would be cause for the superintendent to notify the parent of the missing data and request that it be supplied (a) in writing, or (b) in a conference within 14 days.
This would not apply to supplying further information on a curriculum or textbooks to a resource listing IF that information was already provided by the parent in the original notification. It would not include providing an offer of proof of any kind with respect to parent’s educational background (e.g., high school diploma); teacher certification number, 900 hours of home education, etc. The regulations were written with the understanding that a parent’s word is his bond. The information provided by the parent is “affirmed” by his signature, which is not only adequate but entirely sufficient.

Grade Level by Sue Duncan

It should be understood that the parent supplies no information regarding grade level. Neither the home education regulations nor the state-created notification form require the provision of grade level data. Any school district assigning grade levels which are neither required nor applicable in home education, are in error. The parent neither provides the grade level information, nor “affirms” its accuracy by signature of affirmation.

The school district would make this grade level assignment based on the information provided regarding the age of the child, but may not necessarily have access to information on prior academic history, special needs, etc. The parent, not the district, would be able to most accurately assess the child’s learning level, objectives and goals and from that determine an appropriate “grade level, ” if they wished.

Grade level information is not required of home educators. The school district may NOT require grade levels in any form on your notification information – neither in the curriculum outline nor on the resource list. It is recommended that you do not provide this information in any manner to your school district.* Further, the school district may not expect, demand or suggest completion of grade levels as a requirement for issuance of your excuse from compulsory attendance in subsequent years. In other words, any language by the district which suggests that grade level they assign is in any way an assessment standard which will be used to evaluate your notification information and your ability to homeschool in the future should be refuted as inappropriate, inapplicable and unrequired. Furthermore, the academic assessment should not be reviewed on the basis of this UNREQUIRED grade-level information which the parent neither supplied in the notification nor “affirmed” by his/her signature as correct and which, in any event, is inapplicable to the home education program.

With respect to academic assessment, grade level would only be applicable if choosing standardized achievement testing as an academic assessment in which children are compared to other children in the district of the same grade. (OAC 3301-34-04)

(B) The academic assessment report shall include one of the following:

(1) Results of a nationally normed, standardized achievement test which meets the requirements set forth in rule 3301-12-02 of the Administrative Code.

(b) Results should demonstrate reasonable proficiency as compared to other children in the district at the same grade level. Any child that has a composite score at or above the twenty-fifth percentile shall be deemed to be performing at a level of reasonable proficiency.

BUT, it is the parent, not the school district, who would decide which grade level applied to the child for purposes of standardized achievement testing.

Since grade level is not required notification information, the school district may not use information which you neither provided nor affirmed in order to determine if your child has met the standard of assessment here. The other two assessment standards do not use grade level, except if the parent chooses to allow it in Option 3 – an assessment mutually-agreed-upon by superintendent and parent.

It is understood that grade levels are mechanisms of the conventional schools which are used for segregating children for the purposes of accountability and management. In home education, parents are accountable for their child(ren)’s progress and manage their child(ren)’s time and educational program. Further, children work at various levels in various subject areas; it is not necessary to assign grades to children within our homes and “no such distinction is required for children who are being home educated.” (Home Education: Answers for Ohio Parents, D. Fessler, p. 151) . Grade levels have no application in home education where children work in accordance with their abilities.

Keep in mind: school districts may not require grade levels since this is not required to be supplied in the notification of intention to home educate. School districts may not increase, delete from, or alter the home education regulations in any way. As outlined in the Ohio Department of Education Questions and Answers Regarding Home Education, June, 1993 :

Question 13: Are the requirements in Rule 3301-34-03 [notification] just minimum standards that local districts may make more restrictive?

Answer: No. These rules of the State Board carry the same effect as law, and school districts may not add to these requirements.

Children re-entering the public system fall into a different category and will be required to provide information as requested to the school district. OAC 3301-34-06 (Placement).

Prepared and submitted by Susan M. Duncan, July, 2000

Please do not reprint for publication or distribution without prior permission.

* Grade level  information can be deleted from curriculum outline by using XX in place of grade, or the statement "learning-level appropriate".  For example:  Learning -level appropriate reading material; or learning-level appropriate mathematics operations, including ....; or "What Your XX-grader Should Know."