HSLDA's Bill Review*
*N.B. Editorial Commentary is highlighted in yellow
An analysis of the New Hampshire Homeschool Freedom Act
In George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four “Newspeak” means the opposite of what it says. The Ministry for Peace concerns itself with perpetual war; the Ministry of Plenty is responsible for rationing and controlling food and goods; the Ministry of Love is the agency responsible for the identification, monitoring, arrest, and torture of dissidents, real or imagined; and the Ministry of Truth is the propaganda arm of Oceania’s regime.
HB 301 is not what it appears to be. It is designed to leave in place the same regulatory framework as the HSLDA-designed home education law of 1990, so that HSLDA may benefit from mediating, for a fee, the relationship between homeschooling families and the state. This proposal is designed to ensure efficient state regulation of homeschoolers.
It is reasonable for the state to require attendance upon instruction in the hope of maintaining an educated citizenry. It is unreasonable to create a legal framework by which to prosecute parents who fail to properly educate their children based upon any state standard. It is censorship of the parental duty. If this is allowed, then parents no longer have any personal responsibility. They must simply implement the standards established by an elite, or be criminalized for their failure to do so.
Home School Legal Defense Association Attorney Michael Donnelly appears to be the author of HB 301. He sent drafts to various legislators for their review.
Michael P. Donnelly, Esq.
Staff Attorney for Member Affairs in:
CO, MA, MN, NE, NH, OH, UT, VT, WY, WV, D.C.
Director of International Relations
1 Patrick Henry Circle
Purcellville, VA 20132
1. Summary ................................................................................................... 3
2. Protects Fundamental Rights ..................................................................... 4
3. Protects Flexibility ...................................................................................... 4
4. Protects Choice .......................................................................................... 5
5. Simple One-time Notice …........................................................................... 5
6. Removes Required assessments ............................................................... 6
7. Recognizes that Children are Unique .......................................................... 6
8. No Mandated (or “Encouraged”) Instructional Subjects ............................... 7
9. Provides Explicit Privacy Protection ............................................................ 7
10. Highest Due Process Protection ................................................................ 7
Why is this so important? ............................................................................ 7
11. Removes Department of Education ...........................................................10
12. Abolishes State’s Authority to Terminate a Home Education Program .......10
13. Exempts Homeschoolers from Truancy Law ............................................. 11
14. Informed by Success in Other States ......................................................... 11
15. Developed in Consultation .......................................................................... 12
16. Conclusion .................................................................................................. 12
New Hampshire homeschoolers have defended themselves valiantly from attempts in recent years to impose onerous restrictions on homeschooling families; battles which prompted HSLDA to turn New Hampshire “red” on its national map of homeschool laws to show its “hostile legislative climate.” The most recent election has, however, improved this “climate” resulting in a number of proposals to improve New Hampshire’s 20-year-old homeschool law, New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated 193-A (“RSA 193-A”).
HLSDA wrote the current homeschool law making NH one of the most regulated states in the country. They are responsible for the current situation. HSLDA benefits from mediating, for a fee, the relationship between homeschooling families and the state.
On Jan. 15, 2010, HSLDA E-lert stated:
Although in practice, to most people in New Hampshire the current homeschool law and regulations are not excessively onerous, the state is among the more highly regulated across the country.
Notice that HSLDA appears to have no problem with the current home education law despite its high regulation. The law is unconstitutional, assuming parents are guilty until they prove their innocence.
HSLDA made no effort to change NH’s threat level until told on April 24, 2010 that a change was desperately needed. In response to Rep. Kim Casey’s remarks on the House floor in opposition to the NH Parents First bill, the following request was made:
HSLDA's threat level of our current law as "moderate" regulation was used against us on the House floor. Why fix a "moderately" inequitable law was the question successfully posed to the House. This threat level needs to be changed.
On May 28, 2010 HSLDA finally modified the threat level, but this change was not made based upon their own initiative.
HSLDA supports HB 301 sponsored by Representative Jim Parison, and we encourage our members to do the same. This document sets forth in detail the key points of the bill and explains why HSLDA is supportive of this legislation.
HB 301 dramatically improves New Hampshire's homeschool law. It creates a simpler homeschool law that recognizes parents' fundamental rights, provides for straightforward one-time notification and explicitly protects homeschoolers’ privacy. The bill removes required assessments and all Department of Education (DOE) involvement in home education. In light of the DOE’s removal, the bill creates a careful legislative framework to protect parents from unwanted encounters with DCYF, family courts, truancy officers and school officials. Unlike some other proposals, the bill also removes the state’s authority to challenge parents with educational neglect, terminate a home education program or force children to attend a school.
HB 301 does not resolve the constitutional problems of the current law. It maintains the same framework for efficient state prosecution of parents. It requires that parents submit a “notification” in order to be allowed, or approved, to instruct their child. It also requires notification when the parent moves, allowing the state to track homeschoolers, unlike parents of private school students, who can come or go as they please without having to “notify” anyone.
HB 301 requires an “affirmative defense.” Parent must shoulder the burden of proof; they must provide assessments in response to any questions or concern raised by the state or district that the parent may have “failed to educate” his child lest costly litigation ensues. Probable cause is not needed for such an inquiry, only a concern. Parents must be able, at any time, to prove their innocence of such charges by accumulating and providing evidence of their child’s progress in order to fend off further prosecution.
Requiring an “affirmative defense” insures that parents focus on the demonstrable academic progress of their child, rather than instruction that may be in the best interest of their child. This undermines the child’s instructional program in much the same way state requirement often require school teachers to teach to a test rather than do what’s in the best interest of their students.
HB 301 affords homeschooling parents the highest levels of due process protections. With a sponsor’s amendment, Representative Parison has taken necessary action to remove certain language mistakenly retained during the bill drafting process. This mistaken language created a second, misdemeanor level offense if parents were found guilty of “purposely failing” to educate their children. The amendment removes this language allowing the state to charge parents only with a violation when there is probable cause and with a burden of proof that is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
HB 301’s due process provisions are insufficient. Parents are still assumed guilty until they prove themselves innocent.
It is obvious that HSLDA did not “mistakenly” fail to remove language from their proposal. They deliberately created a new criminal provision and are only amending it in response to widespread objections from the homeschooling community. However, the framework will still be left in place should anyone decide to reinstate this second provision at a later date. The bill has been designed with this criminal provision in mind.
According to supporters of this bill, their objective is to criminalize ALL parents, not just home educators, should they “fail to educate” their children. This is a radical departure from current law, replacing “compulsory attendance” upon instruction with demonstrable “compulsory education.”
HB 301 amends the Criminal Code, RSA 639:3 “Endangering the Welfare of Child or Incompetent” to include home educators and their failure to provide an education for their child. This language is deliberate. HB 301 proposes to charge parents under Criminal Code whether it is with a violation or a Class B misdemeanor.
Even if amended, the entire framework for the efficient prosecution of parents remains in place, allowing the simple modification to restore criminal charges.
The bill is carefully drafted to create greater flexibility and freedom and reduce bureaucracy; HSLDA is convinced that New Hampshire homeschoolers will be well served by supporting HB 301.
In 1990 HSLDA drafted the current law and said it was “model” legislation. It is unconstitutional.
The current home education law is an unfunded mandate upon the districts in violation of Pt. I Art. 28-a of the NH Const.; it violates the guarantee of equal protection under the law as guaranteed by common law and under the 14th Amendment to the US Const. and Pt. I, Art. 12 of the NH Const.; it carries a presumption of guilt contrary to common law; it violates Pt. I; Art. 15 of the NH Const. as it requires parents to maintain a file of evidence that could be used against them in a court of law; it grants the state authority over what is taught to the child in violation of a parent’s constitutional rights of conscience, Pt. I, Art. 4 of the NH Const.; it deprives the parent of the right to instruct his child without due process as the law is unconstitutionally vague.
HB 301 is a continuation of this same flawed model.
HSLDA claims to have 500 member families in NH, which is roughly 5% of the homeschooling population in NH. Multiply 500 families by $100 per year in legal protection fees by 20 years and you get one million dollars in legal fees.
Is it ethical that HSLDA drafts legislation given their financial conflict of interest? Is it ethical for these self-admitted lobbyists to lobby our legislature without once registering with the NH Secretary of State; flouting the lobbying law is a felony.
Representative Parison is a homeschooling father of six, a member of the CheNH board and has served for six years as CheNH’s president. He has been at the “tip of the spear” fighting for New Hampshire homeschoolers these past four years. Representative Parison has consulted with state homeschool organizations and leaders, members of the Home Education Advisory Council, homeschooling parents and supportive state representatives, including his co-sponsors who are representatives Paul Mirski and Charles Sova, and senators Raymond White and Sharon Carson.
The homeschooling members on the HEAC represent exclusive, sectarian and non-political statewide homeschooling groups. Christian Home Educators of NH (CHENH) is sectarian and quite exclusive, requiring a statement of faith of its members. Not all Christians can meet this religious test. Catholics United for Home Education (CUHE) is also sectarian. NH Homeschooling Coalition (NHHC) became a non-political organization as soon as they finished lobbying for passage of the current home education law.
By contrast, NH parents in a statewide non-sectarian, inclusive, political group drafted HB 595, the less restrictive parent-directed instruction bill. It’s sponsors include Rep. Laura Jones, Rep. Andrew Manuse, Rep. Seth Cohn, Sen. Ray White, Sen. Jim Forsythe, Sen. Jim Luther, Rep. Al Baldasaro, Rep. Carol Vita, Rep. Harry Accornero, Rep. Kevin Avard, Rep. Stephen Palmer, Rep. Tyler Simpson.
2. Protects Fundamental Rights
a. In both the statement of purpose and operative text of the law, HB 301 recognizes the fundamental right of parents to direct their children’s education.
HB 301 may recognize the rights of parents, but then undermines them. Parents are still proving their innocence of guilt with an “affirmative defense.” Parents are not provided equal treatment with inequitable notification-based approvals. Parents have to maintain records of evidence which can be used against them in a court of law. Parents can be treated like criminals only if they choose to home educate their children. Home educators must meet compulsory education requirements while other parents only have to meet compulsory attendance requirements. This is inequitable.
By contrast, HB 595 recognizes and guarantees those same rights.
3. Protects Flexibility
a. Its definition of homeschooling explicitly contemplates that education will often take place outside the home and involve other persons besides the parent. This grants flexibility to parents to determine the best approach for their children’s education
4. Protects Choice
a. As under current law, parents may choose a participating agent (either the public school district superintendent or a private school principal).
5. Simple One-time Notice
a. HSLDA has helped other states improve their homeschool laws by replacing annual notification and assessment requirements, like those in New Hampshire, with a one-time notice, e.g. Arizona and Nevada. A single notice as contemplated under HB 301 has had the effect of reducing the risk of erroneous truancy prosecution by providing the homeschooling parent with “evidence” of “compliance” when challenged over compulsory attendance issues and, in many cases, allegations of educational neglect.
This is an inequitable requirement for homeschooling parents. Parents of private school students are not required to notify their district for the approval to proceed.
b. While HSLDA ranks states with no notice laws as the freest of states – these states have court precedents that protect the rights of homeschoolers. New Hampshire does not have such case precedent, which makes having an explicit statute recognizing home education helpful.
This is not true. There is no favorable case law in Connecticut, yet parents do not have to notify the state when they instruct their children at home .
NH law does have historical precedent of not restricting the rights of parents until 1990 when HSLDA drafted a home education law and lobbied our legislature to restrict the rights of parents.
The right and duty of parents to instruct their children dates back to the earliest days in NH. Even in 1871, when the first compulsory attendance law was written, the state recognized the right of parents to instruct their children at home without any state regulation, such as notifications, affirmative defense or criminal charges.
Only when parents were unwilling to assume their responsibility to instruct their children did the state historically intervene. That is the New Hampshire tradition!
c. Our experience in these states with “no-notice” freedom is that such freedom, while greatly appreciated by homeschoolers, does come with a slightly higher risk and incidence of interference from government officials, such as truancy officers or social workers. We are finding that, in the one- time notice states, the simple fact of filing a notice is often sufficient to send truancy officers and social workers off to deal with their more pressing and serious cases. Notification is not seeking approval but is more like an administrative courtesy.
Only home educators are required to seek notification-based approvals from the state. Parents of private school students can register their children in out-of-state schools and no one requires that they seek any notification-based approval. It is inequitable to make this requirement for one group of parents and not demand it from any other group of parents. Equal treatment before the law precludes such discrimination.
Where is the evidence that “no notice” comes with a higher risk? Is this cause for all of us to forsake liberty? Would we all be safer that way?
d. These are important reasons why HSLDA supports a one-time notice statute for New Hampshire. HSLDA is a strong advocate of parents’ fundamental rights to direct the education and upbringing of their children and strongly supports the notion that parents -- and no others -- have the ultimate duty and right to make the decision about how and where their child is educated. Mere notification does not tarnish or abrogate this right but simply reduces the risk that homeschooling parents will face unnecessary and unwanted government intrusion. In no-notice states, we have and continue to experience a somewhat higher incidence of intrusion. While this intrusion is normally resolvable, we believe that the small “price” of notification is worth it.
A parent’s right is not a “notion” or an arbitrary belief, but an absolute entitlement to liberty on this issue of instructing one’s children.
Notification is an unconstitutional requirement as it is not made of other parents. This is unequal treatment.
Parents do not have to notify the state in order to exercise our other natural rights. Why should parents be required to notify the state when exercising this duty?
6. Removes Required assessments
a. While parents will continue to assess their children according to their standards, there will not be a government mandated assessment. Under HB 301, parents will be free to choose the appropriate form and frequency of assessment to insure that their children are being educated towards the level of literacy and self sufficiency set by parents in accordance with each child’s age or ability.
Annual evaluations may have been amended, but an “affirmative defense” is required should any questions or concerns be raised that the parent may have “failed to educate” his child. Hostile superintendents may use this provision to obtain the equivalent of annual evaluations. Once a concern is raised, the parent must provide sufficient evidence or risk further court action.
7. Recognizes that Children are Unique
a. HB 301 recognizes that education should be according to age or ability; the law explicitly recognizes that each child is unique and will progress at his or her own pace and as determined by their parents. No impositions of external or publicly determined standards apply.
The standard required is arbitrary, inequitable, vague and ambiguous. The requirement that the child demonstrate progress “commensurate with the child’s age or ability” is an unconstitutionally vague and subjective determination. This is not something that a parent determine for themselves with any sense of certainty.
(a) The 15th percentile is an inequitable standard required from home educators, but not required of public or private school students. Parents are being held to a higher standard than public or private schools, which is inequitable.
(b) A “credentialed” teacher is not defined, but is just another way of requiring a state approved education degree or teaching certification. Private schools are not given this requirement, which is inequitable.
(c) “Educational materials showing that the child is progressing towards literacy and self-sufficiency commensurate with the child’s age or ability” is another arbitrary and vague requirement.
What is literacy and self sufficiency for any particular age? What about children with learning disabilities? Will those disabilities be sufficient to qualify for special consideration, or will they cause the parent to be guilty of a “failure to educate.”
A parent can put together a portfolio of the child’s work, but they cannot be certain that this will prove their innocence of a “failure to educate.”
(d) “Other relevant evidence showing that the child is progressing towards literacy and self-sufficiency commensurate with the child’s age or ability” again leaves the parent in a state of uncertainty, not knowing where he stands, but quite certain that no private school teacher faces this criteria. It is inequitable.
8. No Mandated (or “Encouraged”) Instructional Subjects
a. Under HB 301, parents will be free to determine what and how they teach their children. Numerous homeschoolers in New Hampshire have told us that listing subjects in the current law has contributed to confusion in rule drafting and created confusion regarding when they are “supposed” to teach what subject. This bill removes the list and puts parents in the driver’s seat of determining what and how they are to teach their children. There are no encouraged subjects or virtues contained in HB 301. It is up to parents to determine what their children will learn.
HB 595 “encourages,” without requiring, parents to ”instruct” their children using a list of subjects found in the NH Constitution. There are no inequitable requirements made upon parents, such as arbitrary and inequitable evaluations of the outcome of this instruction. HB 595 is far less restrictive than HSLDA’s requirement for demonstrable educational progress, an “affirmative defense” and perpetual acquisition of the requisite assessments.
9. Provides Explicit Privacy Protection
a. HB 301 includes explicit language that protects the privacy of homeschool information maintained, for whatever reason, by state agencies. This was a specific request from numerous homeschooling parents.
This information may be considered “private,” but it can be released to others at any moment. It only takes one complaint raised by a neighbor that children are playing outside during school hours, or a hostile superintendent who prefers regular evaluations, to initiate a request for documentation. Once a concern is raised, the parent must provide this “private” information or risk further court action.
10. Highest Due Process Protection
Why is this so important?
a. Over the last 20 years in New Hampshire, only a handful of cases have ever been brought under the current due process procedure. It is reasonable to expect that this should continue under the new and enhanced levels of due process. However, it is important to understand that one of the reasons DCYF has not been involved with home educators for so long is precisely because the Department of Education (DOE) was recognized to have jurisdiction over homeschoolers through the current law’s due process and hearing procedures. Prior to enactment of RSA 193-A in 1990, homeschoolers were often brought into family court under educational neglect charges. This is precisely why it is so important to carefully articulate standards and procedures that explicitly protect parents from family court run neglect proceedings. Because the DOE will no longer have jurisdiction over home educators under HB 301, it is critical to ensure that justice in other courts is available instead of family courts. Under statutory rules established explicitly for the family courts under RSA 169-C the rules of evidence are relaxed to admit hearsay and opinion evidence. A family court is also allowed to make rulings on the basis of a “preponderance of evidence,” rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The rules in family court impose a “gag-order” of confidentiality to proceedings and on all parties so that any abuses or injustices are hidden from the light of day. While these rules were created to protect the confidentiality of families and children, and often do, the down side is that abuses and over reaching by state agencies and courts is hidden and difficult to challenge.
HB 595, the parent-directed instruction bill, provides similar protection from DCYF and the DOE.
b. To address this, HB 301 removes educational neglect from the Child Protection Act and places jurisdiction with the Superior Court, allowing the state to charge a “violation” if the state has probable cause to believe parents are purposely failing to educate a child. In so doing, HB 301 extends the highest levels of due process protection to parents in these unlikely circumstances. These statutory and constitutional protections require probable cause, a burden of proof that is innocent until proven guilty, real rules of evidence, and open courts.
HB 595, the parent-directed instruction bill, also places jurisdiction with Superior Court. It guarantees due process and does not conflate the issue by requiring an “affirmative defense” as in HB 301, which courts will use to require parents to shoulder the burden of proof.
Prosecuting parents who “failed to educate” their child is inequitable when public and private schools need only provide instruction. They do need not to demonstrate that their students were educated, only that they sat in a seat for 180 days per year and attended instruction.
Why does HSLDA want to impose inequitable requirements upon home educators? You can understand why parents do not want this home education law in New Hampshire.
c. The “intent” requirement under the standard of “purposeful failure” is the highest level of culpability available under New Hampshire law and establishes the highest burden for the state if it were able to move forward after probable cause. In reality, parents who actually purposefully fail to educate their children are not homeschoolers – and such parents should be prosecuted and convicted. Because HB 301 does not require subjects or assessments, unschooling families need not fear notification or prosecution because of their educational approach.
This is not true. Unschoolers will have to demonstrate their innocence of “failure to educate” under HB 301. This requirement will threaten the integrity of their unschooling program, which does not necessarily employ the same academic materials or timelines as other educators. Unschooling is a very effective learning program, but unschoolers will have to go underground if HB 301 passes.
How does the state demonstrate purposeful failure to educate? Would not the lack of a curriculum demonstrate purposeful failure on the part of parents? Would this requirement not be particularly burdensome for unschoolers?
Why should unschoolers, or any parents, be required to provide evidence of the successful education of their children, when public and private school students need only demonstrate attendance upon instruction?
d. A sponsor’s amendment has been prepared to correct mistaken language in the bill as currently drafted. Because of errors in the bill drafting period HB 301 retains language that would make a violation apply only home educators and allow for a Class B misdemeanor for a second offense of “purposeful failure” to educate. This language will be removed leaving the violation to apply to any parent who purposely fails to comply with the law.
Their mistake was creating a new criminal offense for parents. It is being amended in response to the overwhelming objections of the homeschooling community.
HSLDA’s objective was to criminalize ALL parents, not just home educators.
e. A violation in New Hampshire is an “offense,” but it is not a “crime.” A violation is like a traffic ticket and can be punished by up to a $1,000 fine.
RSA 639:3 “Endangering the Welfare of Child or Incompetent” is part of the Criminal Code. It is most definitely a criminal offense whether the charge is a violation or a Class B misdemeanor.
Even if amended, the entire framework for the efficient prosecution of parents remains in place, allowing the simple reinstatement of the criminal charges.
f. By establishing a bar to prosecution and affirmative defenses, HB 301 establishes reasonable criteria to prevent prosecution unless the state has established probable cause that a parent is purposely failing to educate a child. In the unlikely event that parents are charged with such a violation, the bill provides parents with reasonable and minimal standards to demonstrate a prosecution should not go forward. Such evidence may include results of a national standardized achievement test showing above the 15th percentile, a letter from a credentialed teacher, or other evidence, such as educational materials or anything else that demonstrates a child was being educated towards literacy and self sufficiency commensurate with the child’s age or ability. No agency would be able to simply require homeschoolers to produce such evidence. Prosecutors would have to have probable cause to move forward with a case first.
Officials can simply raise their concerns about the education of your child to obtain this “affirmative offense” to eliminate the threat. The standard required is inequitable. It is arbitrary, vague and ambiguous. Should they threaten prosecution, parents will feel obliged to provide an “affirmative defense.”
Why should parents be required to provide evidence of the successful education of their children, when public and private school students need only demonstrate attendance upon instruction?
g. The bill establishes a reasonable standard recognizing that, in our society, we as parents have a duty that goes along with our right to educate our children in basic reading, writing and math. The bill recognizes that not all children progress at the same rate and protects parents from being treated by courts or agencies according to arbitrary standards set by the public education system. Thus, in the unlikely event that parents who are actually educating their children face prosecution and must defend their rights, these reasonable safeguards create a defense and a bar to prosecution. This protects these parents from judges who might be quick to look to the public school system and apply arbitrary or subjective age and grade level standards to children.
There are no such protections in place under HB 301. Parents will have to provide the equivalent of the current “annual evaluations” at the whim of district officials.
Why should parents be required to provide evidence of the successful education of their children, when public and private school students need only demonstrate attendance upon instruction?
11. Removes Department of Education
a. Under HB 301, the DOE would no longer have rule-making or oversight responsibility for home education.
Eliminating DoE rulemaking, allows districts to freely interpret the law. It only took hostile interpretations in 2% of the districts to initiate the current law. This change will open the door for wide disparity in district interpretations of the law.
12. Abolishes State’s Authority to Terminate a Home
a. Under current law (and some other current legislative proposals) the state can eventually terminate a parent’s right to homeschool. This should not be. Under our federal constitution, a fit parent is presumed to make decisions in the best interests of their children. And until a determination of unfitness is made, the state should never be permitted to over-ride that parents’ decision.
HB 595 only allows prosecution of parents based upon evidence that the parent has failed to “instruct” their children. It allows the child be “returned to public or private school, as may be determined by the parent” when the parent fails to provide any instruction.
Even when the parent is instructing their child, HB 301 allows the state to prosecute the parent for “failure to educate” based upon inequitable and arbitrary standards. It does not specify what the court can do regarding the instruction of the child after a parent is found guilty.
It is inappropriate to suggest that a homeschooling program can never be terminated under HB 301 when the entire proposal is centered on prosecution for “failure to educate,” not guaranteeing those rights.
b. Under HB 301, the remedy available to the state when an allegation is made against a homeschooling family would be under the proposed RSA 639, and applicable only to parents who “purposely failed” to educate their children.
c. Because, as previously pointed out, this is a high standard of culpability, and because probable cause would be required to prosecute, it is likely that only the most meritorious cases would be brought to court. Based on the fact that only very few homeschoolers have ever been challenged under the current due process standard, it is likely that there will be no prosecutions under the new approach.
d. Those who follow “non-traditional” educational approaches have nothing to fear from HB 301. Under HB 301, parents are completely free to direct their children’s education as they see fit.
e. The duty under HB 301 is simple – education towards literacy and self- sufficiency, commensurate with age or ability. This means something different for each child. HB 301 treats children as individuals and protects parents’ rights to individualize each child’s education according that child’s unique talents and abilities.
f. HSLDA’s experience has been that in cases where parents are as derelict as to “purposely fail” to provide their children with an education, there are other more serious issues. Failure to educate a child does not rise to the level of harm that should empower the state to dramatically interfere with a family by taking custody of a child or terminating a parent’s right to educate their child at home. The likelihood of any cases being initiated under this standard is low. And those cases that are initiated have a higher probability of being meritorious in large part because county prosecutors, who have real crimes to go after, are extremely unlikely to waste their resources and time quibbling over minor educational differences, such as whether a particular curriculum, or any curriculum, is evidence of a purposeful failure to educate.
13. Exempts Homeschoolers from Truancy Law
a. The law exempts parents who are homeschooling from the truancy law. And because of notification, provides an easy way for parents to avoid harassment from truancy officers and overzealous school officials.
HB 595 also exempts parents from truancy. Notification is not needed to avoid harassment from truancy officers and overzealous school officials since HB 595 provides the highest level of due process protections.
14. Informed by Success in Other States
a. Arizona and Nevada are two states that have moved from homeschool regimes very similar to New Hampshire’s current law with annual notification and assessment. Working together, state homeschool organizations and HSLDA were successful in creating laws with one time notice and no required assessments. In the years since these laws were passed, homeschoolers report that they are working very well.
30 states enacted home education laws since 1982. Were they necessary?
HSLDA was founded in 1983 and was instrumental in drafting many of these of home education laws. They have also benefited from mediating, for a fee, the relationship between homeschooling families and the state. It is unfortunate that so many parents are being forced to live under inequitable regulatory laws.
15. Developed in Consultation
a. HB 301 was developed based on input from national homeschool associations, state level associations, past and present members of the HEAC, homeschooling parents and homeschool supportive legislators.
b. HB 301 was developed after coordination among a number of interested and supportive groups and individuals Along the way, there have been refinements and changes made. HB 301 takes into account many important considerations and, with the sponsor’s amendment, stands as a very strong proposal to improve New Hampshire’s home school law.
Many of those consulted are members of exclusive or sectarian groups. The NH homeschooling community was deliberately shut out of this process and prevented from even obtaining a copy of HSLDA’s proposal. and we expect we will experience the same treatment and secrecy regarding the promised amendment."
HB 595 was developed by extended discussions on an open online inclusive group. HSLDA is a member of this group, as are certain HEAC members and some legislators.
This Bill is carefully drafted to create greater flexibility and freedom, reduce bureaucracy, and protect family freedoms. HSLDA is convinced that New Hampshire homeschoolers will be well served by supporting HB 301.
HSLDA drafted the current home law, which places unconstitutional requirements upon parents. This previous failure and their financial conflict of interest should disqualify them from any further involvement in drafting legislative proposals for NH. Furthermore, their continued flouting of NH’s lobbying laws, which is a felony, should preclude any legislative involvement at all without first registering with the NH Secretary of State.