Success!

On Friday, March 15th, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education released an updated version of the proposed regulation on attendance that had caused us significant concern. I am happy to say that it removed all of the language about homeschooling that caused us concern. In fact, it goes one step further and specifically excludes homeschooling from the definition of “educational institutions.” Because the rest of the regulation applies to “educational institutions” it is very clear that this law is not meant to include homeschoolers. If you would like to read the new text, you may find it here.

The only reason this regulation changed is because the DC homeschool community came together and made our voices heard. Thank you all for your help, especially those of you who sent e-mails and who testified at the Board meeting. You stood up and demonstrated to your children how to participate as a citizen in this republic that has been entrusted to us!

Report on SBOE Meeting

Thank you so much to all of you who sent e-mails about the proposed attendance requirements. Our voices were clearly heard, and hopefully will have made a difference. We were told by the Board of Education that they had received many e-mails from concerned citizens.

Homeschoolers were well represented at the meeting. Five homeschool parents provided testimony. By the end it did seem like we were beating a dead horse, but I think that is exactly what was needed. The Board heard the same thing from all five of us: “Please remove homeschools from this regulation.”

After the meeting I had an opportunity to speak with a couple of the Board members. One told me that it should be a simple matter to clean that language out of the regulation, and that of course they should do that. Another member, Patrick Mara, has been responsive to several of my questions and offered to help if there was any way he could. Finally I spoke with Jose Alvarez, the OSSE Chief of Staff. He said that he believes we will be happy with the rewritten regulation. He took my contact information and said he would allow me a chance to comment on it before they finalized it.

Thanks again to all of you who wrote e-mails. It certainly helped. And thank you to Tom Carpenter, Farrar Williams, Audri Beugelsdijk, and Emily Bradley for coming to testify.

I will continue to provide updates as I am given more information.

A Glimmer of Hope

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) has just announced that the State Board of Education (SBOE) has removed the compulsory education regulations from their agenda for Wednesday, February 20th. They removed it “so that OSSE can continue to review submitted comments and make any necessary changes.” I hope that this is a sign that the OSSE will remove the homeschooling language from the regulation.

There are still three things you can do to help make sure that the SBOE makes the right decision.

1) E-mail the State Superintendent of Education and State Board Members. Contact information can be found at the bottom of this article:

https://dchea.org/2013/02/15/alert-new-proposed-regulations-about-attendence/

2) Attend the meeting on Wednesday if you are able. While the SBOE will not be discussing the proposed measure, they are still hearing testimony on it. A number of homeschool parents are planning to testify. If we have a large showing it will help them to understand that we are serious about this issue. The meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. at 441 4th Street NW, in the Old Council Chambers, located on the lobby level of the building.

3) Join DCHEA. It will help DC homeschooling in the long run if we can organize ourselves. We are a very diverse community and we tend to communicate within our smaller communities. That type of communication is great, but we need a forum where we can work together to address issues of concern to all homeschoolers in the District. Join us through Facebook or through our e-mail list on Google Groups.

ALERT! SBOE Meeting on February 20th

The DC State Board of Education (SBOE) announced on Friday that they would hold a meeting on Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 5:30 to discuss proposed regulations for compulsory attendance requirements. All homeschoolers are encouraged to attend this meeting. Please help us let the School Board know that we take this issue seriously. The announcement of the meeting with details is below.

Further details about the negative consequences of this regulation may be found here: New Proposed Regulations About Attendance

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Washington, DC – The District of Columbia State Board of Education (DCSBOE) will hold a public meeting to vote on revised early learning standards and on rulemaking pertaining to compulsory attendance (DCMR Title 5, Chapter 21A, Compulsory Education And School Attendance).

The DC State Board of Education will also honor Jacqueline Simms, the 2012 Milken Educator Award Winner, Julian Hipkins III, the 2012 DC History Teacher of the Year and National Teacher of the Year Finalist, and Julia King, the 2013 DC Teacher of the Year.

The public meeting will take place on Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 5:30 p.m. at 441 4th Street NW, in the Old Council Chambers, located on the lobby level of the building. All students, parents, and educators, and community members are invited to provide testimony.

Individuals and representatives of organizations who wish to comment at the meeting are asked to notify DCSBOE staff in advance by phone at (202) 741-0888 or by email at sboe@dc.gov and furnish their names, addresses, telephone numbers, and organizational affiliation, if any, by the close of business the Monday prior to the meeting. They should also bring fifteen (15) copies of their written statements with them to the meeting and are encouraged to submit one (1) electronic copy in advance.

The meeting will air live on District Knowledge Network (DKN) Comcast Channel 99, RCN Channel 18, and Fios Channel 12.

ALERT! – Proposed Regulations About Attendance

DC homeschooling advocates are becoming increasingly concerned about the inclusion of homeschooling in a recently proposed revision to the DC regulations on compulsory school attendance. The proposed rule can be found here: 5-A21 COMPULSORY EDUCATION AND SCHOOL ATTENDANCE

The concern comes from the inclusion of the term “home-schooled instruction” in just one paragraph:

2101.1 Each educational institution operating in the District of Columbia, whether public, chartered, private, parochial, private instruction, or home-schooled instruction shall maintain an accurate, contemporaneous, and daily attendance record for each student enrolled in the educational institution.

Back in 2008 DC homeschoolers made their voices heard as the DC State Board of Education (SBOE) considered a complete homeschool regulation. A group of DC homeschoolers spent many hours in joint meetings with the SBOE and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to work out a full set of regulations that, while not perfect, was something that DC homeschoolers could live with. That regulation is now DCMR 5200. During that extensive negotiation process the SBOE came to recognize that attendance for homeschoolers didn’t look anything like attendance in a school classroom. Accordingly, the OSSE and SBOE dropped any specific attendance requirement from the final homeschool regulation.

Now, however,  it appears that we may be saddled with an attendance requirement that is simply ridiculous for a homeschool. This proposed regulation is packed with detailed attendance regulations designed for District public, charter, and private schools. Here are just a few:

2100.4   A school year for attendance purposes shall include a minimum of one hundred eighty (180) regular instructional days.

2100.5 An instructional day shall be at least six (6) hours in length for students, including time allotted for lunch periods, recess, and class breaks; provided, the six (6)-hour minimum instructional day requirement shall not be applicable to an evening school program, prekindergarten program, or kindergarten program.

2100.6 Student attendance shall be based upon the number of days the student is in attendance during the entire year.

2101.5 The name and contact information of the designated attendance monitor(s) shall be reported by the educational institution to OSSE prior to the first official school day of each school year.

2101.4 . . . attendance monitor(s) shall:

(d) Submit to OSSE all attendance records described in paragraphs 2101.3 (a)-(g) of this chapter in conformance with the format and timeframes established by OSSE policy;

(e) Review the accuracy and reliability of attendance records submitted to OSSE via an automated, electronic feed, and make corrections as needed within five (5) business days of submission;

(f) Timely respond to OSSE requests for clarification of submitted attendance records;

Obviously this regulation was not designed for homeschoolers. In fact, the OSSE probably didn’t mean to add new homeschooling requirements. One part of the regulation even says that homeschoolers are exempt from the requirements of this particular regulation. Why then would the OSSE and the SBOE include homeschoolers in the section on required attendance records? Regulations regarding homeschooling are entirely maintained within DCMR 5200 and that regulation does not contain such a requirement. Let’s not allow such a requirement to come in through a back door.

Homeschoolers need to speak up about this or the new regulations will just sail through the approval process without any changes. You can do two things to help. First, join DCHEA through Facebook or our Google Group — links are on our website. Second, send an e-mail to the following officials, requesting that the term “home-schooled instruction” be removed from paragraph 2101.1 of the “Proposed Rulemaking Amending Compulsory Education and School Attendance Rule”:

State Superintendent Hosanna Mahaley Jones
State Superintendent of Education
osse.superintendent@dc.gov
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Stephanie Thomas
Home School Coordinator, OSSE
Stephanie.Thomas@dc.gov
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Laura Slover
President, State Board of Education
Laura.Slover@dc.gov
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Please also contact the Board representative for your ward. The list may be found here: State Board of Education Members

Thanks for helping us keep homeschooling legal and reasonable in the District.

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