Category Archives: Sue Duncan’s HS Alerts

Come to the Carnival!

I will be hosting the Carnival of Homeschooling next week on May 29th and I’m grateful to the Cate’s for their continued invitations to host the carnival here.

I’m particularly appreciative since  I’ve been woefully neglectful of this blog as of late, but the main reason I originally created it was not for my posts,  but to share information  such as  Sue Duncan’s  OH-Alerts.   The opportunity of hosting the carnival a couple of times of year is another reason I happily keep it online.

Hosting the carnival always leads me back to the wonderful path home education led our family down over the years.  This quote by John Taylor Gatto  says it all:

“Whatever an education is, it should make you a unique individual, not a conformist; it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges; it should allow you to find values which will be your road map through life; it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whomever you are with; it should teach you what is important, how to live and how to die.”– John Taylor Gatto

I hope you will stop by next week to visit or submit a post!

 

 

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?

“Requests” to Report to a Designee rather than Superintendent by Sue Duncan

Parents have specifically requested that their excusals be signed by the superintendent, as is required by OAC 3301-34-03 (C)(1): “If the superintendent, upon review of the information, determines that it is in compliance with all the requirements set forth in paragraph (A) 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.”

Further, in accordance with 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. (Could we assume that making a requirement that notification information go to and come from a designee be an addition to the regulations?)

Designees are not authorized under the home education regulations to issue excuses from compulsory attendance; indeed, our regulations are very specific in this regard that the notification must GO TO and (excusal) BE SIGNED BY the superintendent. In point of fact, local superintendents (ie, Kings Local School district) are not authorized to issue such excuses.

Parents are admonished to check to be certain they are filing with the correct superintendent, ascertaining his full name, correct spelling, and full address. They are required to file with the appropriate superintendent so they are in full compliance with the regulations. OAC – 3301-34-03(A) “A parent who elects to provide home education shall supply the following information to the superintendent.” (Can a homeschooler be compelled to disregard the specific requirements of the regulations by an individual school district.?)

Further, superintendent is defined in the home education regulations (OAC 3301-34-01) as:..”the superintendent of schools of the city, county or exempted village school district in which the parent resides.” There is no authorizing language for delegation of this responsibility to any other school official, principal, student services director, manager.

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.” School districts may not increase, delete from, or alter the home education regulations in any way. (Could this designee issue be considered an alteration?)

Clearly, the Statement of Purpose (OAC 3301-34-02) 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)…” (Could this designee issue be considered – inconsistent application – some district superintendents are providing the excusal under their signatures; others are not?)

Under OAC 3301-34-03(C), it is the responsibility of the superintendent to receive, review for compliance and issue the excuse from compulsory attendance in writing. And,  under ORC 3321.04(A)(2), it is the superintendent’s responsibility to issue an excuse from compulsory attendance for the purpose of home instruction.

Because many superintendents view the notification process as one of “approval” or “permission” they may believe that reviewing home education notifications is a time-consuming process, and therefore delegate it to a designee. (In fact, Adamowski stated that his district has 47,000 students, and 6000 employees and it is common practice to delegate authority.) However, if they fully understood that this process was one which was merely administrative … a checkoff list…they could delegate the checklist procedure (are all the required pieces provided? ) to another and merely sign the excusal when it was determined that all required information was in place…or  could sign the letter requesting missing information, if that were the case. (Note above citation which requires them to provide excuse or ask for missing information in writing…OAC 3301-34-03(C)(1)(2). )

Is an excuse signed by a designee valid? For example, what if a homeschooler moves to another district mid-year and wishes their excuse transferred to the new district; or is stopped for “truancy?”

Can a superintendent delegate this responsibility to anyone he wishes – giving him/her full authority over home education matters – in the case of a principal…for only a very limited number of children. What kind of experience (how conversant?) with the regulations might individual school principals have? How does this provide for “consistent application by superintendents?” Could this practice – which might be harmful to homeschoolers in its inconsistency, the lack of experience and knowledge of the principal (or other designee) causing undue hardship with respect to the notification process, be illegitimate since it abrogates the purposes of the Statement of Purpose of the home education regulations: (OAC 3301-34-02) “The purpose of the rules of 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 the law.”

(1) the prescribed conditions require that the parent provide notification to the appropriate party, the superintendent. (OAC 3301-34-03(A)); the term “superintendent is specifically defined in the regulations (OAC 3301-34-01);

(2) providing information to a designee who is a principal in one district, to a designee who is a student services director in another, to a administrative secretary in another, to a supt. in yet another district, is not consistent application BY SUPERINTENDENTS;

(3) compelling a parent to provide information to a designee not authorized under the regulations to provide a “legal” excuse, and thereby creating issues of illegitimacy (and consequent hardship) should the parent move to another district, as well as issues of inconsistent application of the law, exposing the parent to ignorance of the regulations by a designee and thus consequence challenges, etc. does not safeguard a parent’s primary right under the regulations. In does, in fact, imperil it.

(4) Home education must be in accordance with the law; one may presume that the “law” does not only relate to the obligations placed upon the parent but applies to superintendents as well.

Did the 3321.04 Advisory Committee, which informed SBE with respect to the home education regulations, intend for this to be delegated task and authority? (Not according to Diana Fessler, who is a former SBE member and was on the State Board Advisory Committee which wrote the current regulations.) She states: “County, exempted village, or city superintendents are the only ones who have jurisdiction in the area of home education. Designees, principals, local superintendents, etc. do not have any authority to excuse children from compulsory attendance laws. Parents are required by the regulations to correspond with the appropriate superintendent.” (Home Education: Answers for Ohio Parents, Diana Fessler, p. 51)

WHO TO NOTIFY – Superintendent or Designee ?

Some school districts have consistently required that homeschoolers notify the designee of the superintendent, the Director of Office of Special Services, a local principal, school manager, or other school official. However, the home education regulations are quite specific in this regard and require under OAC 3301-34-03(A) that notification of intention to home educate must be made to the appropriate superintendent. “A parent who elects to provide home education shall supply the following information to the superintendent.” Homeschoolers are not permitted to notify a designee; in fact, it is incumbent upon them in fulfillment of their obligations to notify the appropriate superintendent only. We understand that the superintendent may delegate certain tasks within his office; however, he may not delegate his responsibilities. Neither may a home educator be compelled to disregard the home education regulations and notify a designee in lieu of the appropriate superintendent.

Did the 3321.04 Advisory Committee, which informed SBE with respect to the home education regulations, intend for this to be delegated task and authority? Not according to Diana Fessler, former District #3 representative of the State Board Of Education, member of the 3321.04 Advisory Committee which developed the home education regulations and author of _Home Education: Answers for Ohio Parents_, page 51: “County, exempted village, or city superintendents are the only ones who have jurisdiction in the area of home education. Designees, principals. local superintendents, etc., do not have any authority to excuse children from the compulsory attendance laws. Parents are required by the regulations to correspond with the appropriate superintendents.”

Designees are not authorized under the home education regulations to issue excuses from compulsory attendance; indeed, our regulations are very specific in this regard that the notification must GO TO and (excusal) BE SIGNED BY the superintendent. In point of fact, local superintendents (ie, Kings Local School district) are not authorized to issue such excuses.

Further, superintendent is defined in the home education regulations (OAC 3301-34-01) as:..”the superintendent of schools of the city, county or exempted village school district in which the parent resides.” There is no authorizing language for delegation of this responsibility to any other school official, principal, student services director, manager.

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.” Under OAC 3301-34-03(C), it is the responsibility of the superintendent to receive, review for compliance and issue the excuse from compulsory attendance in writing. And, under ORC 3321.04(A)(2), it is the superintendent’s responsibility to issue an excuse from compulsory attendance for the purpose of home instruction.

Further, in accordance with 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.

Clearly, the Statement of Purpose (OAC 3301-34-02) 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)…” (Could this designee issue be considered – inconsistent application – some district superintendents are providing the excusal under their signatures; others are not?)

Because many superintendents view the notification process as one of “approval” or “permission” they may believe that reviewing home education notifications is a time-consuming process, and therefore delegate it to a designee. However, if they fully understood that this process was one which was merely administrative … a checkoff list…they could delegate the checklist procedure (are all the required pieces provided? ) to another and merely sign the excusal when it was determined that all required information was in place…or could sign the letter requesting missing information, if that were the case. (Note above citation which requires them to provide excuse or ask for missing information in writing…OAC 3301-34-03(C)(1)(2). )

Is an excuse signed by a designee valid? For example, what if a homeschooler moves to another district mid-year and wishes their excuse transferred to the new district; or is stopped for “truancy?”

Can a superintendent delegate this responsibility to anyone he wishes – giving him/her full authority over home education matters – in the case of a principal…for only a very limited number of children. What kind of experience (how conversant?) with the regulations might individual school principals have? How does this provide for “consistent application by superintendents?” Could this practice – which might be harmful to homeschoolers in its inconsistency, the lack of experience and knowledge of the principal (or other designee) causing undue hardship with respect to the notification process, be illegitimate since it abrogates the purposes of the Statement of Purpose of the home education regulations: (OAC 3301-34-02) “The purpose of the rules of 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 the law.

CONSIDER:

(1) the prescribed conditions require that the parent provide notification to the appropriate party, the superintendent. (OAC 3301-34-03(A)); the term “superintendent is specifically defined in the regulations (OAC 3301-34-01);

(2) providing information to a designee who is a principal in one district, to a designee who is a student services director in another, to a administrative secretary in another, to a supt. in yet another district, is not consistent application BY SUPERINTENDENTS;

(3) compelling a parent to provide information to a designee not authorized under the regulations to provide a “legal” excuse, and thereby creating issues of illegitimacy (and consequent hardship) should the parent move to another district, as well as issues of inconsistent application of the law, exposing the parent to ignorance of the regulations by a designee and thus consequence challenges, etc. does not safeguard a parent’s primary right under the regulations. In does, in fact, imperil it.

(4) Home education must be in accordance with the law; one may presume that the “law” does not only relate to the obligations placed upon the parent but applies to superintendents as well.

Further, it is receipt in the office of the superintendent only of the notification information which begins the 14-day compliance/non-compliance clock. (OAC 3301-34-03 (C) It does not begin, as has been asserted by some districts, upon receipt of or forwarding to the Office of Special Services. Homeschoolers should continue to notify the superintendent and communications with the school district should be made to the superintendent, as required by the regulations. All original communication should be directed to the superintendent; it is certainly permissible to copy all such communications AFTER notification to the designee as well.

Homeschoolers should always send communications to the district by certified mail, return receipt requested. This provides you with proof of receipt in the superintendent’s office so that you may begin observing the required 14-calendar day count. It is not recommended that you make personal appearances in the district offices to deliver home education notifications.

WHAT TO DO? Send all communications to the person designated in the regulations – the superintendent.

WHO SIGNS YOUR EXCUSAL LETTER?
Superintendents may delegate certain tasks; however, they may not delegate their responsibilities. It is the responsibility under OAC 3301-34-03(C) to receive, review for compliance and issue the excuse from compulsory attendance IN WRITING. It is the superintendent’s responsibility under ORC 3321.04(A)(2) to issue an excuse from compulsory attendance for the purpose of home instruction. ONLY certain specified parties, county, exempted village or city superintendents, have authority under the home education regulations. Designees of the superintendent do not have the authority to issue excuses from compulsory attendance.

Further, “All excuses provided for in divisions (A) and (B) of this section shall be in writing and shall show the reason for the excusing the child. A copy thereof shall be sent to the person in charge of the child.” The superintendent must provide this excuse; as a homeschooler you are required to retain this excuse from compulsory  attendance for your records.

Your excusal letter should be signed by your superintendent as part of his regulatory obligations. It is appropriate that you should expect such signature of
the superintendent and not accept the signature of a designee.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO?


(1) If you receive a notification signed by the designee, write to the superintendent (cc’ing to designee) and request that your excusal be signed by the authority required under the Home Education Regulations. Remember, under OAC3301-34-02, Statement of Purpose – “Home education must be in accordance with the law.” One presumes this means BOTH home educators and school officials tasked by administrative code, namely, the superintendent.
(Be sure to send ALL communications to your school district, certified mail, return receipt requested.)

(2) Cite the regulations specifically with respect to having your superintendent sign the excusal.

Remember: Yes, this may be inconvenient and bothersome. Yes, you have an excuse in hand, why rock the boat? The more often you decide NOT to assert your rights under the regulations, the more unnecessary authority over homeschooling you cede to the school district and the more our homeschooling freedoms are eroded…little by little.

Take a stand; respectfully, calmly, politely assert that the superintendent has a statutory obligation to provide you with an excuse from compulsory attendance. (When you write your letters, please do not copy the language here verbatim; you are welcome to use the quotes and citations, but use your own words. Form letters have very little effect.) And, the more homeschoolers in your district who stand together, the more likely you will achieve the desired result.

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

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

USE OF WORDS: “APPLY, PERMISSION, REQUEST OR APPROVAL” by Sue Duncan

When we homeschool, we provide a NOTIFICATION of intention to home educate. Indeed, this section of the Rules for Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education (OAC 3301-34) is entitled:

“3310-34-03 – Notification.”

With respect to the statement regarding “approval” of homeschooling, keep in mind: you are NOT asking permission, seeking approval or making a request. You are NOTIFYING of your intention to home educate.

Under ORC 3321.04, the superintendent has a responsibility to know where children of compulsory ages (6-18 y/o) are “attending” 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; as parents we certainly understand the difference between being advised by our child/ren of a planned event and being given notice that it will occur.

None of the information provided in the notification requires “approval.” Most of the information is directory information – vital statistics (name, address, children’s names, birthdates); it does not require approval – they are what they are – merely data. Notifying home educators provide assurances that they will provide certain subject matter, 900 hours of home education, and have minimal educational background. These are simply agreements -promises – by the notifying home educator to the school district that he/she will do certain things. No proof is required to demonstrate that the parent has provided 900 hours, or has the minimal educational background (e.g, supplying a copy of high school diploma, GED certificate) ; these are not up for any review or judgment. They are merely checked off.

The items of curriculum outline and resource list are “for informational purposes only.” They are supplied to “inform” only – to indicate that the home educator has planned for the academic year and what he/she intends to use to implement that plan. Neither the curriculum outline nor the resource list are provided for judgment of academic adequacy, quality or appropriateness. Keep in mind that the notification process is one which proceeds from compulsory ATTENDANCE – not compulsory education; therefore, there would be no reason for a school district to be involved in any “approval” process regarding your provided curriculum outline or resource list. – nor was such “approval” ever intended. This is an administrative checkoff procedure.

The Statement of Purpose section of the regulations (OAC 3301-34-02) states: “The purpose of the rules in this chapter is “…to safeguard the primary right of parents to provide the education for their child(ren). Home education must be in accordance with law.” The provision of the child’s education, including the academic plan and learning objectives and resources would be the purview of the parent/s – not the school district. The district would have no role to play in “approval” in this regard.

Furthermore, you are not required to provide any proof or evidence; your word is your bond…your signature is entirely sufficient; indeed, all notification information is provided by virtue of a “signature of affirmation,” attesting that the information is to the best of your knowledge and belief. (See the discussion under PROOF in the CHALLENGES section of this website regarding the importance of the signature of affirmation.)

It is important that school districts understand this distinction because it is one with a difference – you are notifying, not asking permission, making a request and nothing you are providing requires approval. It is your primary parental right to choose this legal and equal educational option in Ohio.

Prepared and Submitted by Susan M. Duncan , February, 2000

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

REQUIREMENT OF SUBMISSION OF NOTIFICATION BY A SPECIFIC DATE by Sue Duncan

Be advised that the home education regulations – OAC 3301-34 – Rules for Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education – contain NO start date. It has been long-standing, statewide practice and advice of the Ohio Department of Education that home education notification should be made to school district of residence on/by Day One of the district’s new fall session. (If the word “local” appears in your district’s name; you must notify your county superintendent of education.)

Furthermore, the provision by a specified date is unrealistic, given the ebb and flow of family life and decision-making. Families may be vacationing and unavailable to provide the information on the date requested; or they may not have made a decision to home educate by a specified date; or they may not have their assessment information available yet. There is no school in session during the summer months; children are not “truant” and the superintendent’s burden with respect to compulsory attendance is not pertinent and, therefore, no reason for home educators to be required to comply with this district request for providing notification information by a date before the start of the new fall term (school year) except that it is convenient, and perhaps cost-effective, for the school system for them to do so.

Home education is a legal and equal educational option; families choosing other educational alternatives are not required to report these to the superintendent, for example, by August 1st. Consider that the only reason for this early reporting is to make it more convenient and cost-effective for the school district to make enrollment and employment decisions for the schools in the system. This is laudable on the part of the district, but it should not burden the home educator. And, since districts mistakenly believe they have an approval function to perform with respect to home education, they believe that it will be time-consuming and do not wish to divert district resources to processing home education excuses during the “busy” time of a new session. If they understood the notification process is clerical, they would not need notifications in their office by a certain date in order to have time to “review,” etc. It would be a simple administrative checkoff procedure with a signature by the superintendent if all the required data was supplied. If any required information is missing, it can certainly be supplied by the parent within the time frame provided in the regulations without any burden to the school district (OAC 3301-34-03(C)(2) ).

This also goes to the issue of school districts insisting that children be enrolled or attending an assigned school while the notification is being processed. You may wish to review the discussion on Truancy and Gymnastic Approach to Considering a Homeschooler Truant in the CHALLENGES section of this website.

For a discussion that notification is not an “approval” process but rather a clerical, administrative procedure, please review the discussion on Use of “Approval, Request, Permission, Application” on this website in the CHALLENGES section.

Read the discussion of the notification process in the Notification Fact Sheet – at http://grafixbynix.com/ohec/

Prepared and Submitted by Susan Duncan , September, 2001

Please do not reprint for distribution or publication without prior permission

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

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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.