New Hampshire Homeschooling Resources
The following are the personal notes of:
84 Mason Road
Brookline, NH 03033-2204
beaverlodge at empire.net
October 12, 1999
DOE, Concord, NH -- Room 15
The meeting was called to order at around 3:45. Present were Michael Faiella, Elaine Rapp, Angie LeBel (DOE employee and recording secretary), Mike Benik, George D'Orazio, Dennis Wyman and Chris Hamilton (visitor).
Because there was not a quorum present, it was agreed that items could be brought up for discussion, but no action could be taken.
Angie handed out copies of a letter from Elizabeth Twomey, Commissioner of Education, to Stefanie Marsh, Secretary of the New Hampshire Homeschooling Coalition, announcing that the State Board of Education had approved the (re-)appointment of Dennis Wyman to the HEAC. The NHHC had previously submitted a letter nominating him for that position. It was pointed out that there is still a vacancy for a homeschooler on the HEAC, as Rob Drye's term has expired and no nomination has yet been received for that position. It had been incorrectly reported last month that George D'Orazio's term had expired. Both Elaine and Angie had contacted the Christian Home Educators of NH to see if they were intending to submit a nomination, as they had been the ones who nominated Rob for his previous term.
After the last meeting, the side door had been opened to re-admit yours truly, since I could not get back in the locked front entrance. Security had shown up to investigate the silent alarm that sounds at their headquarters, but fortunately they chose not to charge the usual fee, after being offered the leftover refreshments from the meeting. Angie requested that if anyone needed to be let in after hours, they could knock on the room's side window or door, but they should then go to the door at the end of the hall for admittance, as that will not set off an alarm.
Elaine had prepared a draft of the annual report to the Board of Education, which she requested Angie mail to all HEAC members for their comments. The report was not being made available to the public at that time.
Elaine brought to the council's attention that an LSR (Legislative Services Request -- see http://www.state.nh.us/gencourt/whatislsr.html for a definition) had been submitted that has a potential impact on homeschoolers:
requiring that home schooled students be responsible for the same curriculum as students attending the local school system.
(Prime) William P Brennan
Joseph R Twardus
Paul J Dwyer
(To find this LSR online, go to: http://126.96.36.199/gencourt/billstatus/2000lsr/lsrtitles.asp Then search using any of the words in the bill and it will be displayed in the search results. You can also click on any of the sponsors' names to find out how to contact them.)
There was some speculation about what and/or who was behind the bill. Angie wondered if this had anything to do with some superintendents not wanting to accept evaluations because not all subjects were covered during that academic year. Elaine wondered if it was coming out of the DOE, but George doubted it because the wording was "clumsy". Angie also pointed out that Pat Busselle, legislative liason for the DOE had been out sick for some time, so it was not likely to come from the DOE.
Michael Faiella had also heard that an LSR would soon be submitted by Reps Corbin and Mirski to exempt from the school portion of the real estate tax those who homeschool or who send their children to private schools.
(NOTE: The following contact info was obtained from Webster:
David C. Corbin
58B Winnicutt Rd
Stratham, NH 03885-2427
Paul M Mirski
RR 1 Box 244
Enfield, NH 03748-9325
At the last meeting, Michael Faiella had asked Rachel to look into how the HEAC could get information on the last Franklin Pierce Law Institute conference. Angie had obtained from David Gephardt, DOE employee, some documents on what was covered last year, but had not had time to look through them. She would look through them and bring the relevant portions to the next HEAC meeting. Michael also requested that the DOE notify HEAC about next year's conference in a timely fashion, say May or June, so they could take appropriate action. Angie thought that HEAC might be able to get on a mailing list, perhaps through Pat Busselle's office.
Angie had received a call from a superintendent about a high school student who is currently participating in basketball and softball at the high school. The mother intends to enroll her child in one class at a non-public school, and wanted to know if this would affect her child's elegibility. Elaine's answer was no, that as long as she was going through the notification process, this was still a homeschooled child who was just taking a class.
Angie was receiving lots of questions from districts about probation, and thought it was probably time for the DOE to issue an advisory on the subject.
Angie was also was getting queries from districts about requiring immunization records from homeschooled students. Although the DOE had issued an advisory on the subject, she wanted to be able to give the superintendents the statutes and regulations on which the advisory was based. She was referred to ED 311.01 and HE-P 300. Although HE-P 300 requires records to be collected for all enrolled students, the definition of enrolled does not include homeschooled students unless they are participating in activities at the school.
Angie had gotten a call from a company called Tutoring and Instructional Services, who had gotten a request from a parent to help establish a home education program. The parent maintained that the Epsom school district was refusing to help her. There was some discussion about just how much help a district was required to offer, with homeschoolers agreeing that very little was required. Without more details of what the parent wanted, there was little HEAC could do.
At 4:15 Karen Tardiff arrived, and the council had a quorum.
There was no published agenda for the meeting, and no minutes available from the last meeting. Many people in DOE were not in the office, and Angie had had an increased (!) workload this past month.
Elaine requested that it be entered into the minutes that Rob Drye's term had expired, not George D'Orazio's. Angie had talked to a DOE employee that might be interested in filling the DOE's vacant council position. This person will come to a future meeting to see what is involved in taking on this responsibility.
Elaine also requested that mention of LSR 2000-H-2368-L be entered into the minutes.
The issue of privacy had been brought to Elaine's attention. The council sometimes discusses particular cases, and it had been brought to her attention that, although names were never used, sometimes the information discussed was specific enough that it could be used to identify the family. She asked whether the council felt a need to go into executive session when such particulars were discussed. She was particularly concerned that HEAC should have continued access to information about these cases so that they could fully understand the issues involved. Michael Faiella wanted to make sure that generic issues that arise out of specific cases are discussed in public session -- for example certain districts are asking for immunization information. Dennis Wyman thought that perhaps the cases could be discussed using less of the identifying information -- for example there was rarely a need to discuss the student's gender. He also thought that if there were any executive sessions, a summary of the issues involved should be entered into the public record for that meeting. Karen Tardiff thought there were probably rules and procedures the council should be aware of before taking this sort of action, and Elaine agreed to spend some time looking it up in Robert's Rules of Order.
At this point yours truly requested permission to speak. It was I who brought the issue to Elaine's attention. At the previous meeting, when Rachel Hopkins was giving the DOE report, she had openly and specifically requested that I not mention any district names in my reports, even though she was going to name them in her report. I was not comfortable with this -- information is either public or private, it can't be "a little bit public". I needed to know that everything discussed at the meetings was public information.
Angie then asked what the council thought should be in the DOE report. Should she keep bringing cases to them? She had a lot of people call her and pour out their life stories to her. Sometimes you would think that it had nothing to do with home education, but in the end, it all did.
At this point, Rob Drye was present, and Elaine asked him what he thought. He cited RSA 91-A, which governs public access to government meetings, and thought that there was next to nothing that HEAC discussed which legally justified executive sessions. The discussion continued for some time about how to make the reporting of issues more "generic" and less tied to the details of any one case. Elaine noted that the cases were getting more numerous and more specific. The council was not sitting around thinking, "Oh, what should we do if...," the unusual situations were being generated by real cases. Rob pointed out that council members could seek permission from the family to discuss details openly at the meetings.
Michael Faiella was very concerned that the district identity be public information. As an example, he stated that people in Barnstead have an interest in knowing that the truancy investigation mentioned at the last HEAC meeting was in their town. He thought they should know that if their children were outside playing at 10:00 AM they might get a knock on the door at noon. Angie was concerned then about her relationship with superintendents. If they know that the discussions they have with her might end up generating complaints from the public, they might not be so willing to seek her out.
The end result was that an "advisory" was entered into the minutes that HEAC council members should be aware that specifics about cases they bring before the council could be used to identify individuals, and they should keep such references to a minimum.
As a last item, Elaine had received an announcement of an essay contest open to homeschoolers. For more information, see: http://www.eldredwwiimuseum.org/essay.html
The meeting was adjourned at 5:10.
84 Mason Rd
Brookline, NH 03033
beaverlodge at empire.net
Document source: E-Mail from Chris Hamilton