I received this today from the director of policy in the Office of the State Superintendent of Education:
To be clear, the mention of homeschooling in Section 2200.2 was a drafting error. We are removing homeschooling from the section, and the version put before the State Board for a vote will have homeschooling removed from 2200.2.
That is great news. This statement was actually written to Ward 1 board member, Patrick Mara, so I will trust, but verify, its truthfulness. 2200.2 is the section that specifically stated that homeschoolers were included in the graduation requirements under this code.
There is a bit more to the story, however. The reason only 2200.2 is mentioned is because we are still talking about ways homeschoolers might be included voluntarily and optionally in other sections of this code. OSSE says that homeschoolers were included in this legislation because “we heard from parents and others in the homeschooling community asking and advocating for a diploma.” To be honest, I very much doubt that there were multiple parents asking about this. OSSE’s staff members clearly misunderstand how homeschoolers graduate. Apparently word started spreading around OSSE and the Board that the only way homeschoolers could graduate would be to attend a DC school for their final semester. (Yes, this was bizarre.) I did my best to correct the confusion, so I think that now they understand that we don’t need a state-sponsored diploma in order for our kids to genuinely graduate from high school.
With that cleared up, however, OSSE thinks, and I might agree, that having an option for homeschoolers to receive a diploma from the District might benefit some. One thing I like about these new graduation requirements is that they have guidelines for “competency-based” credit. This would allow DC students to earn legitimate high school credit by demonstrating competency in an area through testing. Having an option like that might make it easier for some homeschoolers to graduate from high school earlier.
With that in mind, I asked the OSSE policy director to remove all other references to homeschooling from the regulation and insert this paragraph instead:
2204.7 A student from a home school program operating under Chapter 52 of Title 5 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR) shall be eligible to receive a high school diploma from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education if such student has been certified as eligible to graduate pursuant to §§ 2202 et seq. Alternatively, home schooled students shall be deemed graduated and may receive a home school diploma when their course of home study is completed in compliance with Title 5, Chapter 52 of the DCMR. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to suggest that such home school diplomas are not an equally legal and appropriate form of proof of high school graduation under District of Columbia regulations.
Because they have so much experience with the application of homeschool legislation nation-wide, I have been in contact with attorneys from HSLDA. They are quite supportive of this language and would prefer to have it included in the proposed regulation.
I would like to hear what you think. Please feel free to post on our Facebook group or Google group, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will update you all again on Monday. I think we are past the worst on this, but there are still some loose ends that need to be tied up before I will feel thoroughly comfortable.