New Hampshire Homeschooling Resources
The following are the personal notes of:
84 Mason Road
Brookline, NH 03033-2204
beaverlodge at empire.net
April 7, 1998
Present: Elaine Rapp (chair), Rachel Hopkins, Dave Batchelder, Robert Horan, George D'Orazio, Mike Benik, Dennis Wyman, Michael Faiella, Karen Tardiff. Also visitors Chris Hamilton and Christine Pollina.
1. Minutes of previous meetings:
The February minutes generated no comments, and had already been amended and accepted at the March meeting.
The March minutes were amended and accepted. The amendment was a change in wording to reflect that the discussion at the Non-Public School Advisory Council about the Claremont decision, as reported by Karen Tardiff to HEAC, were opinions, not necessarily fact.
Elaine said she had received comments about the brevity of HEAC minutes. She did not feel that they needed to be more detailed, and that they were in keeping with the style of minutes of similar bodies. She pointed out that the meetings were open to the public, and that anyone could call a HEAC member for more details.
Elaine (as chair of HEAC) had received a letter from the Governor's office (?) about the Youth Volunteer of the Year award. She wanted HEAC to help forward the information to the homeschool community. Rachel said the best route she had was to post information to the nhhr-l mailing list, telling parents where they could get a copy of the form for nominations. The deadline for submissions is May 4th (?).
Bob Sanders of the Granite State News Service had contacted Elaine and other members of HEAC. He will be doing a story on home-ed in the state. Granite State News Service sells articles to newspapers around the state, sometimes customizing them for a particular region. Fosters is one such customer.
A copy of HB 1247, as amended, was passed out (see below). It had passed the House and was before the Senate. Elaine noted that if it passed, the first meeting would be over the summer. She would try to get a list of the members of the study committee, so that Council members would have access. (It was not clear if she meant access to the list or to the members themselves.)
A bill before the House allowing homeschoolers to take the NH state assessment test at no cost to the district was ruled "inexpedient to legislate".
1. (return to Minutes briefly)
Karen Tardiff arrived, and Elaine asked her for clarification on how the Non-Public School Advisory Board was dealing with the Claremont decision. Karen said the issue was never raised at their meetings, except when Karen brought it up. Only one person responded, and said there was no reason for non-public schools to be concerned (this seemed to be agreed to by those schools represented on the board), that Judith Fillion had said it was only a funding issue. The board had a long and good relationship with the DOE, and did not see Claremont as changing anything. Elaine pointed out that the legislature, not DOE, would be the source of changes.
Michael Faiella also asked Karen if the controversy surrounding Paul Norwalt and his school had come up in discussions. Karen said it didn't.
4. DOE Report:
The NHHC had sent a letter to Commissioner Twomey recommending Elaine Rapp be renominated to the Council (her term expires 6/98), and the letter had been forwarded to Rachel. She would be writing a letter to the Commissioner nominating Elaine.
Rachel had been getting questions of the type, "Can I use a correspondence school or a tutor?" The DOE's response to such questions has always been that if it is not the parent teaching the child, then the arrangements must be worked out with the district (participating agency). DOE encourages districts to work with homeschoolers.
Angie had been working on putting out a list of HEAC members with up-to-date e-mail addresses, but had trouble accessing the disk. She had finished the cover letter and resource list which DOE will send out to homeschooling inquiries.
Rachel was also working on a problem with a student who had used the Commissioner of Education as participating agency in '96-'97. She had located the portfolio evaluation, and was in the process of producing a post-dated letter acknowledging the evaluation, but it did not have the certificate number of the teacher who did the portfolio evaluation. The superintendent was refusing to send a letter acknowledging the '97-'98 letter of intent without DOE's letter indicating successful completion of the previous year's homeschool program.
Rachel had had calls from 3 sets of parents who were pulling their children from schools because they didn't consider it to be a safe environment for them. Rachel had followed up with a call to the superintendent of the district letting them know of this situation (implication being that they should be concerned about the safety of the student). Although she never identified the families involved, in each case the superintendent was already aware of the situation, and knew who had called her. Michael Faiella said he had been hearing this reason given by parents increasingly for the last two years. Angie had heard this same theme while Rachel was on vacation this past month, especially with 13-14-15 year olds (disciplinary/safety issues). Elaine said that 10 years ago this was not a common reason for homeschooling.
5. Old Business:
Next month's agenda should include an item for dealing with expiring terms and making sure any vacancies will be filled.
Elaine read the "Purpose" section of 193-A out loud, and stated that it should be included in copies of the law which DOE sends out. She stated (and others agreed) that it was important for safeguarding the rights of homeschoolers. Rachel agreed to add it to the handout.
Purpose. 1990 279:2, eff. July 1, 1991, provided: "The general court recognizes, in the enactment of RSA 193-A as inserted by section 3 of this act, that it is the primary right and obligation of a parent to choose the appropriate educational alternative for a child under his care and supervision, as provided by law. One such alternative allows a parent to elect to educate a child at home as an alternative to attendance at a public or private school, in accordance with RSA 193-A. The general court further recognizes that home education is more individualized than instruction normally provided in the classroom setting."
6. New Business:
Michael Faiella brought information about the Franklin Pierce Law Institute's conference on education, of which DOE is one sponsor. Some of the workshops are about homeschooling, others relate indirectly to homeschooling. He proposed that the DOE sponsor a council member (Elaine was his first choice) to attend and relay information back to the Council. Although the conference is not a place where policy making occurs, sometimes the seeds of future policy decisions are planted here. He did not think the HEAC participant chosen should go as an advocate, but as a reporter, so HEAC/homeschoolers don't have defacto decisions handed down to them without knowing where they came from. The recent (1997) attempt to change the homeschooling law was one such case where Michael and Elaine believed the initiative began at this conference. There was some discussion about how the panelists were chosen (or not chosen) for the homeschooling workshop -- it was clear that the conference organizers wanted only attorneys. One of the panelists, Attorney Zelin, had interpretations of the law that were not known to be shared by members of HEAC, and which if followed would severely curtail the freedoms of homeschoolers. It was noted by Rachel that neither the DOE nor HEAC could veto the choices made by the organizers. Because DOE is a sponsor, they are given a number of (free) spots at the conference. Within the department, those who wish to attend are asked to choose one day in which topics relevant to their duties are discussed, so as to split the spots among different people. Could Elaine possibly pick one day to attend? Michael pointed out that when superintendents and principals attend, their fees are paid for by tax dollars; homeschoolers don't get much in the way of services, and that it wasn't asking very much for one conference registration for 3500 homeschoolers. It was moved by Michael and seconded by George D'Orazio that HEAC request that DOE send (at no cost to participant) one Council member to this conference. The vote was 8 ayes, 0 nays, and 1 abstention (Rachel).
[Author's note: Michael has also brought this request to the New Hampshire Homeschooling Coalition, suggesting that they fund a participant who would report back to them. I have last year's conference schedule in a file on my computer, and will send it to anyone who requests it. An announcement of this year's seminar can be found at http://www.fplc.edu/eliconf.htm. I believe the cost for all 3 days is around $600.]
David Batchelder didn't know if this was appropriate for a HEAC meeting, as this was only his second one, but he asked, "What do the 3200 homeschoolers in this state need for support in educating their children?" In a few homeschooling families he knows, he sees a dire need for information and support. One family he knows has a lot of questions about whether they are doing things right; by choice they do not ally themselves with any support groups or state-wide associations. After a long pause, Elaine's response was that homeschooling families need two things: 1) to educate their children in the manner they choose (an open mind on the part of the participating agency) and 2) sometimes they like to access services available through their school system. In the second case, HEAC does not get involved directly, as this is a local issue (policies are set by local school boards, not state law), but it does encourage local districts to work with homeschoolers. HB 1247 would create a committee to study this issue, and HEAC will follow this bill/committee with great interest. Michael pointed out that HEAC had done a survey of school districts' policies regarding homeschoolers, and thought that a statement by then Assistant Principal Suzanne Schrader exemplified the kind of policy that homeschooling members of HEAC would like to see enacted generally: "We make every effort to support the parental plan for home education. Our goal is to ensure a positive and productive educational experience for the child."
House Bill 1247
An Act establishing a study committee relative to access to public school facilities and programs by home school students.
Sponsors: Rep. Clay, Hills 4; Rep. Colburn, Merr 12; Sen. Rubens, Dist 5; Sen. Podles, Dist 16
Analysis: This bill establishes a study committee relative to access to public school facilities by home school students.
HB 1247 AS AMENDED BY THE HOUSE
18feb98.....0390h 98-2014 0408
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
In the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Nine Hundred and Ninety-Eight
AN ACT establishing a study committee relative to access to public school facilities and programs by home school students
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:
1. Committee Established. There is established a committee to study access to public school facilities and programs by home school students.
2. Membership and Compensation.
I. The members of the committee shall be as follows:
(a) Four members of the house of representatives, appointed by the speaker of the house, consisting of at least one member of the education committee, and at least one member from the municipal and county government committee.
(b) Three members of the senate, appointed by the president of the senate, consisting of at least one member from the education committee, and at least on member from the executive departments and administration committee.
3. Duties. The committee shall examine the following issues:
I. Access by home school students to public school facilities and programs, including, but not limited to, facilities and progrmas for art, music and science.
II. Whether current law provides for such access.
III. If current law does not provide for such access, then which law, if any, assure equal access.
4. Chairperson; Quorum. The members of the study committee shall elect a chairperson from among the members. The first meeting of the committee shall be called by the first-named house member. The first meeting of the committee shal be held within 45 days after the effective date of this section. Four members of the committee shall constitute a quorum.
5. Report. The committee shall report its findings and any recommendations for proposed legislation to the speaker of the house of representatives, the senate president, the house clerk, the senate clerk, the governor, and the state library on or before November 1, 1998.
6. Effective Date. This act shall take effect upon its passage.
Document source: E-Mail from Chris Hamilton