Category Archives: Ohio

Finding Resources in Local Parks

One of our family’s all-time favorite resources is our local Cleveland Metroparks.    The Metroparks are also affectionately called the Emerald Necklace as there are parks that were wisely donated and preserved  that are like a ring of interconnected parkways and trails that run through the surrounding Cleveland area.

They also have a publication, aptly named  Emerald Necklace and my issue just arrived yesterday.  If you are in the area, you can explore it online and see all the wonderful opportunities coming up.  If you are not in the area, there are still some great resources to be found.  For example, scroll to page 4 and read  The Greatest Show on Earth by Robert D. Hinkle, PhD. Not only is it a great description of the solar cycle, there is also a useful link to the www.spaceweather.com to see when you might see a great show as well.

Salamander Crossing

I was checking my feed reader this a.m. and came upon a great post by Jim McCormac, The run of the salamanders.  For salamanders, homeschool science those who don’t live near a creek, or who might not be that familiar with the salamander, stop by and read about his mid March spring adventure.

His post reminded me of the many salamanders the neighborhood kids and I observed along the banks of Plum Creek.   This got me to wondering what type of other salamander resources I might find.

Here are just a few:

The Ohio Salamander Web – Home of the Ohio Salamander Monitoring Program

Enchanted Learning has a printout on the life-cycle of the salamander

Cleveland Metropark  Search-able Animal Database

Salamander Photos

If you want to witness the run of the salamanders yourself and you are in or near Brecksville, Ohio, you can witness them crossing the road in the Cleveland Metro Parkway, Brecksville Reservation  from March through early April, if the weather is warm and rainy.  They close the parkway from 4 pm to 9 am and there will be a park representative on hand to answer questions.

From 4 p.m. to 9 a.m. during warm and rainy weather, the parkway will be closed to traffic. A park representative will be available at the closure site to answer questions.

If you aren’t in Ohio, then see if your own local park might not do something similar!

Best Homeschool Resources

The best homeschool resources I have found can’t be purchased, but are knowing your rights and the responsibilities foundation, best homeschool resources, rights and responsibilitiesthat accompany them. This way, you are fully aware of what options you can choose and if someone asks you to do more or less than that option,  you are fully informed and can protect your choice.

This has come to mind today as I watched a report that Susan Ryan shared at her Corn and Oil blog from Fox News about Virtual Schooling. The show started with the reporters stating how homeschooling is growing like wildfire as an intro to an interview with  Elizabeth Kanna, author of Virtual Schooling, A Guide to Optimizing Your Child’s Education.

Kudos  to miss Ms. Kanna for getting it right when she explained that the virtual schools she writes about are actually public virtual schools and that they are not the same as homeschooling.    Certainly there are many similarities, but it is important to remember when exploring various education  options that we  must investigate each choice and look at the fine print attached to determine the best option for our family.    That is why I’m in favor of rights and responsibilities being the foundation and key to finding the best homeschool resources available.   As we investigate any choice or opportunity, it is our responsibility to ask the hard questions and to learn all we can before choosing.  Clarity of language similar to Ms. Kanna’s helps to find  the rights to this option all the easier.

Each state is different, but I’m familiar with the laws in my state concerning home education. In Ohio- home education laws and rules can be found within a few short chapters of the  Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 3301-34 Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education.   Virtual Public School Laws can be found in the Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3314 and include  many more laws since they are public schools.

Knowing the rights and responsibilities  involved with each choice, whether  they are labeled public virtual school, public brick and mortar school, private school or home education,  provides an excellent foundation for parents to be able to  find the best resources for their child(ren).

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.


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.

Ohio Home Educators Network

Ohio Home Educators Network (OHEN) is a regional network of homeschooling families. We are an inclusive group supporting families of all religious beliefs.

Although OHEN supports a student-led, interest-centered approach, we welcome all homeschooling families regardless of educational philosophy or teaching style.

OHEN’s purpose is to provide interested parents with accurate information about home education in Ohio.

We hold informational meetings and offer a discussion group for families to share resources and discuss homeschool issues.

OHEN is a network of homeschooling families in the Northeast Ohio area. The network, started in 1991, is run completely by volunteers. O-HEN does not sell or distribute any curriculum, textbooks or teaching supplies.

OHEN

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR DISTRICT ASKS FOR “PROOF”by Sue Duncan

Proof of Residency, Proof of Custody, Proof of Minimal Educational Background – TeachingQualifications – High School Diploma, Provision of900 hours of home education; Provision o fPrior Academic History – First Year of Notification,Teacher Certification Number, The Importance of the Signature of Affirmation, What Do You Do?

From time to time, school districts contact home educators and communicate that they require “proof” with respect to the parent’s notification of intention to home educate. Homeschoolers have been asked to provide proof of residency, proof of custody, proof of educational background/teaching qualifications, certification number of evaluator, proof that 900 hours of home education will be provided, e.g, record-keeping, and so on.

Quite simply: No “proof” is required to be provided by the home educator in accordance with the notification requirements of the home education regulations (OAC 3301-34-03 (A)-(B) )

Clearly, the Statement of Purpose (OAC3301-34-02) reflects the purpose of the home education regulations …”to prescribe the 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)…”

The regulations for issuing excuses from compulsory attendance are clear and in accordance with ORC 3321.04(C) are “binding upon the authorities empowered to issue them.” 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 any way.

Further, 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 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.

Requiring additional "proof" of various types would be an alteration of the home education notification requirements by a school district and is not allowed under the home education regulations.

Furthermore, the home education regulations AND the state-generated notification form (from Supt. Of Public Instruction-Ohio Department of Education) demonstrates on the part of the State Board of Education a ratification of the legitimacy in the parental choice of home education. Neither the regulations themselves nor the state-generated notification form require that parents provide PROOF, for example, of minimal educational background, or that they will provide 900 hours of home education. Indeed, on the form and in the regulations, the word of the parent – the signature of affirmation the parent – is all that is required.

This format was not chosen lightly or without great discussion and debate. The conclusion reached by Ohio State Board of Education with respect to the home education regulations is that parental choice with respect to the education of their children is to be upheld, that parents have a “primary right” to provide that education and have that right safeguarded by the state, and that their word in this matter is their bond. When a school district requires various proofs or information beyond the regulations, homeschoolers view these actions as a demonstration of a disregard and disrespect for the parents and their decision to home educate, as though a parent cannot be trusted with this important decision for their child(ren); as though a impersonal school district is somehow blessed with knowledge not available to parents and knows what is best for all families.

Further, parents sign the notification information under a signature of affirmation, similar to an oath – a solemn declaration regarding the information provided. OAC 3301-34-03(A)(10). The intent of the committee ( as stated by Diana Fessler, former Butler County SBE representative and member of the 3321.04 Advisory Committee which wrote the current home education regulations and advised SBE in this matter) was that said affirmation would be sufficient and that a parent’s word is his bond.

A review of the required information would demonstrate that none of the information requires an approval process; it should be an administrative procedure to process home education notifications. Indeed, the school year is not up for approval, nor is the parent’s name, address; nor name and address of person teaching the child, if other than the parent, nor is the child’s full name or birthdate. These are vital statistics which are provided to the district. Parents provide their assurance – an agreement to provide 900 hours of home education, to cover certain subject areas, and their minimal-attained educational level; they agree but such agreement is not to be “approved.” It is provided as required data, not for approval of the district. Indeed, the task of the district with respect to home education is to see that the required information is in place; the district does not approve home education since this is a primary parental right to choose this option. And, parents affirm the provided information by their signature, again, this signature does not require district approval. The regulations specifically state the curriculum outline and resource listing are supplied to demonstrate that the parents have given considered thought to their educational plan, but they are not supplied for a judgment regarding their content or quality. That they are supplied is all that is required. The words following the requirements for these pieces of data are instructive: “Such outline (or list) is for informational purposes only.” Clearly, this indicates that this information is not being provided for a judgment regarding quality, content or adequacy, but rather to see that the parent has an academic plan.

In subsequent years of home education, parents are required to again respond to state’s interest in education by providing an assessment of the child’s progress for the previous school year. The parents make the appropriate choice for their child(ren) and provide that information, understanding the standards of progress required under the various assessment options. No approval or action is required by the superintendent, except in the case where academic progress is not achieved in accordance with the regulations.

A district’s notification to home educators that they must provide PROOF, whether of residency, custody, teaching qualifications/educational background, certification number, 900 hours, etc. is clearly an addition to the requirements for an excuse from compulsory attendance for the purpose of home education.

Home educators may not be denied an excuse from compulsory attendance based on declining to provide UNrequired, additional information or “proof/s” to the school district.

————————————————————–

Homeschoolers understand that there is a state’s interest in compulsory attendance (ORC 3321.04) and comply with said interest by providing information in accordance with the rules set forth by the State Board of Education, OAC 3301-34 Rules for Excuse From Compulsory Attendance for Home Education. We understand that we must comply with the responsibilities outlined in these regulations and that we may not pick and choose which we shall comply with and which we shall ignore. We further understand that this Rule also contains obligations and burdens for the superintendent. Our home education regulations have the “force of law.”

PROOF OF RESIDENCY

Homeschoolers are required by the home education regulations to provide notification of their intention to home educate to the superintendent of their school district of residence in accordance with the following citations from the home education regulations:

” A parent who elects to provide home education shall supply the following information to the superintendent (OAC 3301-34-03(A).

“School District of residence means the public school district within which the parent resides.” (OAC 3301-34-01(D)

“Superintendent” means the superintendent of schools of the city, county, or exempted village school district in which the parent resides. (OAC 3301-34-01(E)

It is incumbent upon the home educator, as part of his responsibility, to make every effort to determine and notify the appropriate party of his intention to home educate. This is especially important since “local” superintendents and other designees, including Coordinators of Special Services, principals, school guidance counselors, attendance officers, etc. do not have authority to issue an excuse from compulsory attendance and the regulations are specific in the definition of who constitutes a “superintendent.” (See above definition)

Provision of the information required under OAC 3301-34-03-Notification (A)(2) – name, address of parent – should be sufficient information from which the district could ascertain the residency status of the home educating family. Certainly, it is understood that the district would have access to informational databases from which to verify residency status, if that is necessary for the conduct of their responsibilities. The requirement that home educators provide such residency proof is not established in the regulations and would not be cause for denying an excuse from compulsory attendance.

Also instructive in this regard, the Ohio Department of Education Questions and Answers Regarding Home Education, June, 1993 :

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.

Home educators may not be compelled to provide proof of residency, beyond the required factual data – name and address, signature of affirmation, to the district.

A home educator may not be denied an excuse from compulsory attendance as a result of declining to provide this Unrequired, additional information.

PROOF OF CUSTODY or CUSTODIAL STATUS

With respect to proof of custodial status, please refer to the definition section of the regulations:

(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. (OAC 3301-34-01(C) ). The notification form/letter is signed as “parent” under a signature of affirmation, a solemn declaration regarding the information provided.

The regulations are specific in this regard as well and require no provision of information to the district beyond the notification requirements in Paragraph A of the Rule. THAT information has been provided to the superintendent, e.g, child’s full name and date of birth, parent name and address, signature of affirmation as “parent.”

Further, in accordance with the Ohio Department of Education Questions and Answers Regarding Home Education, June, 1993, provided to all superintendents:

Question 8: “How do missing children laws affect the information collected on home education families? (Check of driver’s license, birth certificates, etc.)

Answer: School Boards can only collect the data set forth in the State Board standards governing home education.

This data does not extend to provision of proof of custodial status. An excuse from compulsory attendance may not be denied if a parent declines to provide this UNrequired, additional information.

PROOF of MINIMAL EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND or TEACHING QUALIFICATIONSe.g, high school diploma

Proof of a minimal educational background/teaching qualification is not required information except insofar as the home educator provides assurance – a checkmark or comment “yes” – that s/he has at least the minimal educational background outlined in the home education regulations. (OAC 3301-34-03(A)(9) ).

The Ohio Department of Education Questions and Answers Regarding Home Education, June, 1993, memorandum to all superintendents, is instructive:

Question 9: May superintendents request copies of high school diplomas, college diplomas, transcripts, etc. of home education parents, or home teachers to “affirm” that proper credentials are in place?

Answer: No, the standards do not require that the specific copy of a high school diploma or college diploma, etc. be sent with the notification for home education.

Furthermore, in the same document:

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.

Home educators may not be compelled to provide proof of minimal educational background or teaching qualifications, e.g., high school diploma, as a condition for issuance of an excuse from compulsory attendance. They need only demonstrate by their assurance – a checkmark or comment “YES” next to the appropriate qualification – that they qualify under the requirements of the home education regulations.

An excuse from compulsory attendance may not be denied if a parent declines to provide this UNrequired, additional information.

PROOF that 900 HOURS OF HOME EDUCATION HAS BEEN PROVIDED.

Home educators have been asked to supply “proof” that they had provided their child(ren) with 900 hours of home education. Usually this has been requested in the form of records or documentation that the required subject matter and agreed-to 900 hours had been provided. The reasoning of the district being that they wish to ensure that children are receiving an “education.”

This information is not required as part of the notification requirements (OAC3301-34-03) for home education. Instructive in this regard is the Ohio Department of Education Questions and Answers Regarding Home Education, June, 1993, provided 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.

Furthermore, this is not the purview of the school district. The school district provides the homeschooler with an excuse from compulsory ATTENDANCE. Home educators respond to the state’s interest by providing the notification information thereby enabling the superintendent to conduct his statutory responsibilities under the compulsory attendance law.

When parents undertake the home education option, they understand that THEY will be providing their child/ren’s education and, indeed, this very purpose is specifically stated in the regulations: “The purpose of the rules in this chapter is … to safeguard the

primary right of parents to provide the education for their child(ren). …” OAC 3301-34-02

It should also be understood that the requirement of the provision of the academic assessment would satisfy any concerns a district might have regarding the adequacy of a child’s “education.”

Declining to provide this Unrequired, additional information would not be cause for denying an excuse from compulsory attendance.

PROOF of PRIOR ACADEMIC HISTORY – First Year of Notification

If this is your FIRST YEAR of home education, you are not required to provide information regarding your child(ren)’s prior whereabouts or prior academic history. Academic assessment to the school district will be provided when/if parents notify for subsequent school years – after the first year – as required by the regulations.

“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.” OAC 3301-34-04(A).

The key word here is “subsequent.” There is no provision for provision of any prior academic history for families notifying for the first time.

As outlined in the Ohio Department of Education Questions and Answers Regarding Home Education, June, 1993 , to all superintendents:

Question 2: May a superintendent request academic assessment information for the previous school year when the student was not in the district (home education, other public school, elsewhere)?

Answer: The standards state that the parent must provide an academic assessment report only when sending their subsequent notification for home education. If the academic assessment report is not sent with the subsequent notification, the superintendent may request, in writing, the missing information. Request for the initial notification, need not include assessment results for the previous year.

Furthermore, in this same memorandum from the Ohio Department of Education 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.

Provision of prior academic history – if this is the first year of home education notification, is not required by the home education regulations; therefore, homeschoolers may decline to provide this UNrequired, additional information. An excuse from compulsory attendance may not be denied because this information is not provided.

PROOF OF TEACHER CERTIFICATION NUMBER

Home educators are not required to provide the teacher certification number on the assessor’s form or letter which is provided to the school district in compliance with the requirement for an academic assessment to be filed at the time of subsequent notification. Home educators understand that under the home education regulations, OAC 3301-34 (Rules for Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education) that they are fully responsible for the education of their children, including the determination that the assessor is fully-qualified and appropriately certificated to review the work of the child(ren) for the prior school year, or to administer a standardized achievement test.

A review of the academic assessment requirements of the home education regulations (OAC 3301-34-04 ) indicates that while three assessment options are outlined and assessment standards specified, there is no requirement that certification number of an assessing or testing teacher be provided. It is specified that the teacher be certified and only certain certifications are applicable. The parent attests to such determination by virtue of his/her signature affirming the information supplied to the superintendent. (OAC 3301-34-(A)(10) ).

Should a school district require this information for the conduct of their responsibilities, it would certainly have access to the statewide database which contains such certification numbers and can ascertain this information for itself.

An excuse from compulsory attendance may not be denied if a parent declines to provide this UNrequired, additional information.

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SIGNATURE OF AFFIRMATION

And, lastly, but not no less important, the notification information is signed under a signature of affirmation, similar to an oath assuring that the information provided is accurate to parent’s best knowledge and belief. OAC 3301-34-03(A)(10). The intent of the regulations ( as stated by Diana Fessler, former Butler County SBE representative and member of the 3321.04 Advisory Committee which wrote the current home education regulations and advised SBE in this matter) was that said affirmation would be sufficient and that a parent’s word would be his bond; parents are to be trusted. The regulations were written to specifically safeguard parents’ primary right to provide the education for their child/ren (OAC 3301-34-02) and it is understood that a parent provides the required information, complies with the regulatory obligations imposed without the necessity for the provision of proofs, but by his/her solemn declaration – the signature of affirmation.

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.

No proofs or evidence, other than academic assessment in subsequent years, are required in the notification information provided by parents. An excuse from compulsory attendance may not be denied because a parent declines to provide such UNrequired, additional information.

WHAT TO DO?

Truancy by Sue Duncan

Homeschoolers are being threatened with truancy by the school district if they do not attend school while the homeschool notification is being processed by the district. The reason being that they are not excused yet and therefore, are still under the compulsory attendance statute (ORC 3321.04) which states that the district has an obligation to know that students between the ages of 6 years and 18 years are enrolled in a program.

Home education notification, appropriately filed by the parent, satisfies the district’s mandate under compulsory attendance statute. The district is advised  where the child/ren will be and that the child/ren will be in a program provided by the parents, instructed at home. The State Board of Education adopted the  rules which parents and superintendents are required to follow in order to homeschool and such parental right is specifically protected and stated in the Purpose statement  of the regulations, OAC 3301-34-02: “The purpose of the rules in this chapter is to … safeguard the primary right of parents to provide the education for their child(ren).”

If there are issues of non-compliance with a notification, the superintendent and the parent are provided with a time period and process with which to resolve these issues. (OAC 3301-34-03(C)(1)(2) ). Since they would be issues of missing information, supplying this missing data should not be cause for considering a child truant. Further, the district should not assume the parent will not overcome any issues of non-compliance; and therefore, the district should not have cause for considering a child truant merely based on either missing data or any other resolvable issue of non-compliance.

Truancy is about attendance. It extends from ORC 3321.04, the compulsory attendance statute. It is about compelling attendance, not education; therefore, there appears to be no educational reason for pursuing truancy threats against home educators. Threats of truancy are not about the adequacy of an educational program; therefore, suggestions by districts that home educators must be “in school” until such time as their notification is reviewed and approved by superintendents are not well-reasoned or supported.

Home education notifications are reviewed to see that the required data is in place. This is a clerical, administrative procedure; a check-off list. The superintendent does not make a judgment regarding academic content, quality or adequacy. It is reviewed to see that it is provided. Therefore, none of the information should be of such import, or educational quality, that it would require a child be in attendance at a public school or other such program until such time as a superintendent reviews to see that the information is provided. This can be done while the child is home educating and while the notification is being reviewed for provision of the required data.

There is no starting date stated in the home education regulations. Long-standing, statewide practice is that most homeschoolers notify on/by Day One of their school  district’s new fall term.

Further, the regulations are specific with respect to obligations of the responsibilities and obligations of the parents and the superintendents. If the regulations required a  starting date, or there were penalties for not complying with such, one could believe that they would have been specifically stated. The regulations are specifically ambiguous in this regard, allowing for parental rights. Again, rights which are specifically stated and safeguarded by the home education regulations Statement of Purpose.  (OAC 3301-34-02)

Home education is a legal and equal educational choice in Ohio. It is equivalent to the other 5 choices currently available. Children attending parochial school, for example, are not required to attend public school until such time as their attendance in a parochial, private, community is demonstrated. They are allowed to begin immediately.  Under the equal treatment clauses of the U.S. and Ohio Constitutions, such rights must be accorded to home educators as well upon notification of their intention to home  educate. Special privileges may not be accorded to only one or a few groups.

Further, pursuing parents who have chosen a legal and equal educational option in Ohio, who have notified of their intention to home educate and who have, therefore,  satisfied the obligations with respect to compulsory attendance (and remembering that truancy is NOT about educational quality but attendance), would appear to be a  waste of limited district resources. Diversion of manpower, time, money and focus from legitimate issues of truancy facing a school district would seem to be issues which taxpayers, citizens (which home educating parents are) should be concerned and which should perhaps be brought to the attention of the local school board.

Providing evidence that they have filed a notification of intention to home educate, and therefore have satisfied the state’s interest in knowing where a child, ages 6-18, will be, even if they do not have their excusal from compulsory attendance in hand yet, should be sufficient. Lack of such excuse during the required 14-day compliance review  should not be cause for issuing truancy charges. Parents who have appropriately notified have complied with their obligations; such parental notification  allows the districts to comply with their own statutory obligations.

Further, districts are often remiss in providing home educating parents who are in compliance with letters of excuse from compulsory attendance in a timely manner (within 14 calendar days) as required under the code, OAC 3301-34-03(C)(1). It is unseemly that lack of district compliance should create truancy difficulties for parents who have followed the law in this regard.

Truancy threat of home educators is a wasteful exercise; it serves neither the district’s nor the home educator’s purpose of providing an education for children.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:
(1) Write a polite, firm, reasoned letter to the Superintendent. Information has been provided which may aid you as you consider what you shall say to the district in this regard. It is important for home educators to write letters to districts in areas of non-compliance. It serves the purposes of maintaining our own educational freedoms, and of educating the district with respect to THEIR compliance with the regulations. It smoothes the way for homeschoolers coming behind you. Take a stand today.

It is requested that you do NOT copy this information verbatim. Please feel free to use any of the quotes or citations in your letter, but it would be more effective if you would put your thinking into your own words. Form letters are not as effective as individually-created ones. Thank you.

(2) Send with copies to:

(a) School Board (this is critical; they are the supt’s boss and hold the purse strings; it would be important for them to know how the district is utilizing its limited resources. Are they diverting time, money, focus from legitimate district issues by requesting information from home educators which is not only NOT required, but which exceeds the regulations which are binding on the supt. and his office? They need to know how taxpayers and citizens of this district feel about the treatment of families pursuing a legal educational option in Ohio. Remember, you are not only home educators in your city, town, etc., you are taxpayers and citizens! These are your elected officials; your tax dollars pay their salaries…and the superintendent’s !)
(3) If you have notified your district, and it is beyond the 14-day requirement for the superintendent to provide you with an excusal, you should contact your district and politely request that the superintendent comply with the home education regulations, OAC 3301-34-03(C), under which the superintendent has a regulatory burden to provide the home educator, in writing, a notice of excuse from compulsory attendance, within 14 calendar days of receipt of notification of intention to home educate. This is a legal document which the superintendent’s office must provide and which homeschoolers are required to retain for their records. Ask for receipt of the excuse from compulsory attendance by return mail. (Be sure to send ALL correspondence via certified mail, return receipt requested.)

(4) Share this information with homeschoolers in your area. Be sure that they are receiving good, accurate and reliable information. Homeschoolers may find that by advising their district that they will NOT comply with requests that exceed the home education regulations, they are protecting their freedoms AND educating the district.  Let’s begin by becoming educated ourselves.

Rev. 02/01 – S.M. Duncan
Do not reprint without permission

WHAT DO YOU DO? SIMPLE STEPS….MINIMAL COMPLIANCE – Sue Duncan – HS ALERTS

Your school district has sent you a letter (or telephoned you) stating they desire:

  • grade level; or
  • table of contents of your textbooks; or
  • future communications to be with a designee – the principal, student services director, etc.; or
  • the name of the textbook you will be using to teach nuclear fission; or
  • a copy of your high school diploma; or
  • your notification by a certain date; or
  • your academic assessment by a certain date; or
  • their district-created notification “form” – which includes incorrect language- be used; or
  • their newly-created “procedures” be followed; or
  • more information on what you plan to do in algebra…and so on.

OR Their communication – either written or verbal – :

  • threatens you with truancy; or
  • uses words like “permission,” “approval” or “request.”

Well, certainly, many of us dislike rocking the boat – especially if the communication from the school district contains an “approval of your homeschooling request for the  school year.” But consider – when you acquiesce to the illegitimate requests (or language) of a school district, you de-legitimize the home education regulations.

When you fail to act, when you fail to decline to comply with unrequired demands, or do not respond to language which misrepresents the regulations and their intent, you
do several things:

  • * you cede the school district authority and responsibilities not mandated by statute;
  • you create a sense of entitlement in the school district to the “information” requested;
  • you set a precedent;
  • you raise the bar for every other homeschooler in your district, especially those who refuse to comply with illegitimate requests.
  • you lose an opportunity to educate the district with respect to the regulations – their intent or language;
  • you weaken the home education regulations;
  • you reinforce the mythology that homeschooling must be able to be compared with a “traditional” educational options in order to be successful and valid.

Yes…it’s a very difficult act to respond to a school district – to take on that institutional authority with it’s police power (attendance officers and juvenile court system) and  cultural weight. But consider that when you do, you have an opportunity to serve your homeschooling community, to educate the district – and perhaps open a dialog with  them about homescshooling, to preserve the integrity of the home education regulations as written, and to maintain your homeschooling rights and freedoms. No small
thing.

Okay…so WHAT DO YOU DO?

  1. It’s begins with YOU. Become educated – about the regulations, notification and minimal compliance. When homeschoolers KNOW what their rights and responsibilities are, they can feel confident and calm in dealing politely and firmly with their school districts.
  2. Think about the principle of Minimal Compliance – that is, “do nothing more/nothing less than is required under the home education regulations. Doing less places you in jeopardy of being non-compliant and truant; doing more weakens the strength and validity of the regulations.By following this simple idea, you can help maintain your rights to home educate your family in accordance with your own principles and beliefs.
  3. Be sure you have a copy of the home education regulations – OAC 3301-34 Rules for Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education.  (This is a searchable database.)READ THEM.
  4. Break down what you have been asked; check your copy of the regulations…is the information or action requested/demanded required; is the language appropriate and accurate? If you do not understand the request, or the regulations – DO NOT call the school district. Instead, contact a support group or a home education advocate (not lawyer) you trust. Many support groups have persons available with many years’ experience to help you refute challenges from school districts. Keep this in mind: calling a school district for homeschooling information is like calling Similac corporation with a breast-feeding question.There is a volume of information available from support groups, websites, homeschooling advocates to help you determine an appropriate, reasoned, thoughtful response to the district. (This website contains a great deal of information refuting specific challenges, such as truancy, or provision of unrequired information, dealing with designees, pitfalls of part-time participation, etc. See the CHALLENGES link.)
  5. Determine WHO issued the communication? The superintendent, or a designee. (You might wish to consider the information on this website – under CHALLENGES -Designee). The ONLY person charged in the school district with jurisdiction regarding home education is the superintendent, except in the case of part-time participation and enrollment/placement in the public system. The local school board is able to set policy in this regard only.
  6. If the communication is verbal, politely but firmly respond that you wish any request of the district to be put in writing. Verbal exchanges do not afford the parent (or anyone calling in an official capacity from the district) any protection or preservation of their rights. Neither the parent nor the district has sufficient documentary proof that contact was made, the nature of such contact, nor does verbal contact provide the home educator with documentary protection with respect to her response. ALL communications with your district should be in writing.
  7. Write a polite, firm, reasoned letter to the superintendent of your district and decline to comply with the requests of the district which exceed the regulations. You may also choose to enclose a copy of the actual home education regulations for each person you will be sending this communication. You are provided with a resource to download copies in item (3) above.
  8. Pass information about illegitimate requests or de-legitimizing language (use of words like “approval, “request,” or “permission” ) along to homeschooling families both within your support group and within your school district. Work together to coordinate a community response to illegitimate requests from your school district. (This is your opportunity to educate the school district and protect the integrity of the regulations. Imagine what might happen with their desire for future requests if they receive 25 letters politely but firmly refusing to comply with a demand for unrequired information and explaining why. )
  9. Attend or hold discussions about the home education regulations, notification and minimal compliance. Join email lists, listservs, newsletters or forums which regularly follow homeschooling and issue updates to members regarding issues facing Ohio homeschoolers – local, statewide and/or national. Share this information with other homeschoolers in your community. Be a home educator educator!
  10. ou may wish to consider forwarding copies of any communications you send to the superintendent’s office to the school district’s school board. This is critical; they are the superintendent’s boss and hold the purse strings; it would be important for them to know how the district is utilizing its limited resources. Are they diverting time, money, manpower, focus from legitimate district issues by requesting information from home educators which is not only NOT required, but which exceeds the regulations which are binding on the superintendent and his office? They need to know how taxpayers and citizens of this district feel about the treatment of families pursuing a legal educational option in Ohio. Remember, you are not only home educators in your district, you are taxpayers and citizens! These are your elected officials; your tax dollars pay their salaries…and the superintendent’s !)
  11. If you think it necessary, request time before the school board to open a dialog about home education. Perhaps not surprisingly, the school board focuses on issues more generally around traditional educational issues; it would be an opportunity to present a “real face” to homeschooling as opposed to the mythology and misstatement surrounding it. You might find an ally on the school board that you can work with BEFORE issues arise; or to whom you might be able to turn privately to turn aside challenges after they appear.
  12. Ask your local library to include factual, accurate homeschooling information on challenges in the reference section of their facilities. Consider placing information in the front of library books on homeschooling – with permission of the library.
  13. When challenges do appear…face them. Do not turn to an expert or organization to do it FOR YOU. Certainly, they can be helpful, provide your with insight and information. But take a stand for yourself, your family and your community. When we chose homeschooling we did so because we felt WE were the experts on our families – no one knew more than we did about what was right or appropriate for us. And so it is with our own homeschooling freedoms. WE are the ones to take up the task of safeguarding our rights and freedoms for our families.

Take a stand; face the challenge: become aware, informed and proactive!

Copyrighted – Susan M. Duncan
Do not reprint for publication without prior permission
May, 2001