New Hampshire Home Education Policy Overview I
New Hampshire Homeschooling Resources
by Michael Faiella
Vice-chairman, Home Education Advisory Council
In the fall of 1994 at the request of the Home Education Advisory Council, Jackie Teague, Department of Education representative on the Council, developed and sent out a survey of homeschooling policies and practices of NH school districts. She asked that they be returned by January 30, 1995. By April 1, 46 of the 67 school districts had responded.
There were several difficulties I encountered in tabulating the results. Some surveys were only partially completed. Some simply referred to attached written policies. One said that many of these questions had never come up. In these districts I had to infer the answer to the questions based on information they gave. Where information was insufficient, I did not attempt to guess a response. In some cooperative school districts, different towns had different policies. In such cases I looked for the predominant policy. The numbers given, therefore, should be taken as indicative rather than precise.
The survey indicates that 21 of the SAU's have written policies, while 24 do not. Several districts that reported having no written policies were in the process of developing one, however. All written policies had been adopted since 1990, that is, since 193-A became effective, except for one, which dates back to 1983.
In 21 school districts the superintendent handles homeschooling issues; in 16 it is the assistant superintendent; in 5 others it is someone else, such as a curriculum supervisor, special education director, or guidance counselor. A similar number review the letter of intention to homeschool, but when it comes to reviewing the evaluations at year's end, only 12 superintendents do so, while 11 assistant superintendents, 13 principals, and 9 "others" perform that task. The principals were far more likely to be involved in the multiple town school districts.
Overwhelmingly, most school districts (40 yes, 5 no) allow some form of participation by homeschoolers in public school activities, 29 of these districts on a case by case basis. The kinds of participation allowed include taking classes (29), participating in sports (33), field trips (34), use of computers (32), library privileges (38), and laboratory use (21).
The 5 districts excluding homeschoolers are typified by Derry, which urges parents to send their children to public or approved private schools because of the educational program and the "socialization possible in a group environment," and which prohibits any participation by any homeschooled child in any school activity.
The 40 districts allowing homeschooler participation vary in the degree of that involvement. Among the most inclusive are the Newfound Area and Portsmouth. The Newfound Area School Board "supports a parent's right to choose the best educational program for their children," and allows homeschooled students wide access to facilities, courses, activities, and services. Although Portsmouth does not have an official written policy, Assistant Principal Susan Schrader, who handles homeschooling matters for the district, describes the policy this way: "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." Statewide, practices and policies are more like Portsmouth's than Derry's.
Although not all districts responded to this survey, it does provide a picture of school districts' homeschool policies which should prove useful to any person or agency dealing with homeschooling.
Document source: New Hampshire Department of Education, hardcopy.