Where should Greene County homeschoolers send Home Education Notification Forms?

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Office_and_Stationer_g145-Twisted_Red_Pencil_p75505.htmlBecause of a change in wording in the Ohio Revised Code 3321.04, there has been some confusion as to where Greene County homeschoolers send their homeschool notifications.

The Xenia, Yellow Springs, Greeneview, Cedar Cliff, and Sugarcreek/Bellbrook school districts contracted the task of handling homeschool notifications to the Greene County Educational Service Center. But with the change in ORC 3321.04 from

“city or exempted village school district or the educational service center”

to

“the superintendent of the school district in which the child resides”

the HSLDA and CHEO have sent out messages advising homeschoolers that it would be best if they send their homeschool notifications directly to the local school superintendent.

Why is this confusing?

Because the Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 3301-34 Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education already stated in 3301-34-03 Notification that

A parent who elects to provide home education shall supply the following information to the superintendent”, and the superintendent is defined as ” the superintendent of schools of the city, county, or exempted village school district in which the parent resides.”

It was the wording in the ORC seemed to provide an exception to this by allowing an “educational service center” to provide excuses from compulsory attendance if certain criteria were met, which included an exemption for home instruction. Now the relevant portions of the ORC 3321.04 state:

Excuses from future attendance at or past absence from school or a special education program may be granted for the causes, by the authorities, and under the following conditions:

(A) The superintendent of the school district in which the child resides may excuse the child from attendance for any part of the remainder of the current school year upon satisfactory showing of either of the following facts:

(2) That the child is being instructed at home by a person qualified to teach the branches in which instruction is required . . .

There are a couple of ways to look at this:

#1 This change in the law doesn’t directly address where notifications are mailed – it still states that homeschoolers notify by supplying their school superintendent with the information required. So if the district contracts the handling of paperwork to the GCESC, it isn’t a violation of the law to continue to do so, or to ask homeschoolers to send their notifications to the GCESC. The important part is that the superintendent receives the homeschool notification and does the excusing. If this is being done, then the means used to deliver homeschool notifications to the school superintendent are irrelevant.

#2 Both the Ohio Administrative Code and Ohio Revised Code instruct homeschooling parents to send their notification directly to the school superintendent. This means exactly what it says; that homeschoolers in these districts mail homeschool notifications to the superintendent’s office in compliance with the OAC and ORC. If we as homeschoolers must follow the Ohio Code to the letter, then so does the local school district, and they shouldn’t ask homeschoolers to ignore the letter of the law for any reason.

This is the best information we have at our disposal at this time, so it is up to each homeschool family to decide for themselves how they want to handle this situation.

One thing to take into consideration: if the superintendent’s office in your district contracts the handling of notifications to the GCESC, and homeschoolers send their notification to the superintendent, the school district office will most likely forward it to the GCESC anyway.

This means it the superintendent may miss their 14 day response window, which could result in homeschoolers waiting longer than usual to receive their excuse letters.

UPDATE: I spoke to Xenia School Superintendent Pro Tem Denny Morrison on the phone today, and he assured me that if homeschoolers in his district send their notifications to his office, he will forward them to the GCESC as quickly as possible. He is not advising homeschoolers to ignore the Ohio Code on this issue, and will do whatever he can to expedite the homeschool notification/excuse letter process.

If anyone has any additional information that would be helpful, please let us know by using the Contact Form, or leave a comment below.

Common Core and the Impact on Homeschooling

PEACH is excited to host an informative discussion focusing on the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) and its impact on Homeschooling.   Melanie Elsey, legislative liaison for Christian Home Educators of Ohio (CHEO), will be our featured speaker.

Melanie Elsey has a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education and a Bachelor of Science degree in special education. After serving as a learning disabilities teacher in Ohio’s public school system, she stepped out the classroom to fulltime responsibilities at home. She and her husband, John, home educated their three children (K-12) and are now enjoying grandparenthood. Melanie has served as CHEO’s legislative liaison since 1994. In this capacity she provides analysis of pending legislation and potential changes in policy that would have an impact on home educating families. She and John currently serve on CHEO’s Board of Directors (https://www.cheohome.org/).

March 13, 2014, 7:00-8:30(doors open at 6:45)

Arrowbrook Baptist Church, 1124 Upper Bellbrook Road, Xenia, OH  45385

Further information from CHEO about the Common Core State Standards Initiative can be located at:

https://www.cheohome.org/legislative-information-2/common-core-standards/

All meetings are free and open to the public.

Homeschoolers and Equal Access

In June of 2013, the Ohio Legislature passed House Bill 59, which grants homeschoolers equal access to extracurricular activities in their local public schools.

PEACH (Parents Educating at Christian Homes, Inc) was formed with a specific mission;  to provide support, encouragement and fellowship to Christian families who are home educating, and to provide information about home education. We do not attempt to act as mediators between parents who wish to use this access to extracurricular activities and officials in their public school district, nor do we in any way try to act as facilitators for parents who are choosing this option.

What PEACH can do is provide information from reliable sources to help parents make this decision for their family, as well as make a few recommendations:

  • When communicating with your local school district, always do so in writing. This provides you with proper documentation should questions ever arise.
  • If you need professional legal help, contact a law firm that specializes in homeschool regulations, such as HSLDA  (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) or NCLL (National Center for Life and  Liberty).
  • HSLDA has a couple of articles on their website for homeschooling parents who are considering this option for their children:

Sports and Public School Classes
Ohio Homeschoolers Granted Equal Access to Extra Curricular and PSEO Funding

Ultimately, parents are responsible for their children’s education, and should thoroughly research and prayerfully consider what is best for their own family.

Update:

Check out Home School Sports Net- a network of homeschool sports teams.
In this related article by Scott Woodruff at HSLDA, he lists the myths and the realities of homeschoolers participating on public school sports teams.

The Battle is the Lord’s

This coming school year promises to be an interesting one with all that is at stake for home educators. There is the U.S. Presidential election which so far has been a humdinger. First, John McCain was down for the count, then he was the nominee. Hilliary Clinton’s juggernaut crushes everything in her way as she heads to her coronation. Wait a minute. That didn’t happen; Barack Obama is now the guy. As of the writing of this article, Barack and John are in a statistical tie, but Obama is selling more T-shirts and bumper stickers. Stay tuned for more.

In the Congress and Senate, there is talk of a Democrat super majority, with stunning losses foretold for the Republicans. At the state level, Ohio could very well end up as a blue state with democrats running at least the House in tandem with a Democrat Governor. Oh, and did I mention the state Home Education Regulations are up for a formal review after 19 years?

Boring it ain’t.

I would submit that no matter what happens, that the Lord will still be on his throne. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians:

6 However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. (emphasis mine) 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory,

The bottom line is that we are citizens of another government. So, what happens here shouldn’t get us too shaken up, since after all it and they are all coming to nothing. However, we are temporary citizens of this world and I believe that scripture tells us to advocate for things like freedom, justice, and mercy.

Isaiah 58:
6Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?

This election season, I suggest you make it your aim to advocate for freedom, to break any yokes. Certainly, many freedoms in our country and state are at risk. So, while the victory and the battle belong to the Lord, our God has given us power to act. The battle isn’t over. It is just beginning. So, this fall, I suggest getting involved as a family in the political process. Find out which state, local, and federal candidates support freedom. Since we as a group are dedicated to homeschooling, find out who is on our side and do what you can to support them. Work a precinct, help put up signs, make phone calls, get your kids involved. They will benefit much more by seeing and doing instead of studying how our political process works in a textbook.

Proverbs 21:
31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
but victory rests with the LORD.

Get your horse in the battle.

Complacency is not an option

The unfolding legal challenge to homeschooling in California caught many by surprise. Here is what happened – courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle:

“The ruling arose from a child welfare dispute between the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and Philip and Mary Long of Lynwood, who have been homeschooling their eight children. Mary Long is their teacher, but holds no teaching credential.”

“The Second District Court of Appeal ruled that California law requires parents to send their children to full-time public or private schools or have them taught by credentialed tutors at home.”

The entire background is here:

As of March 25th, 2008, The California Court of Appeal has agreed to re-hear the case. Michael Farris, chairman of HSLDA commented: “This is a great first step. We are very glad that this case will be reheard and that this opinion has been vacated, but there is no guarantee as to what the ultimate outcome will be. This case remains our top priority,” he added.

The lesson we can all take from this is that, once again we as home educators must be vigilant. Many of us in the homeschooling community have grown complacent in recent years. We in Ohio have enjoyed a long run of stability and favor among the mostly home school friendly Republican majority in state government. That stability could be in danger as the political winds change throughout the state and the nation.

Not everyone in California was unhappy about the court’s decision. The ruling was applauded by a director for the state’s largest teachers union.

“We’re happy,” said Lloyd Porter, who is on the California Teachers Association board of directors. “We always think students should be taught by credentialed teachers, no matter what the setting.”

It is important that we know exactly who our political adversaries are. There are organizations right here in Ohio that are actively seeking to restrict or regulate home education.

How can PEACH members do their part? Here are five suggestions:

  1. Get to know your state and local elected officials. Find out where they stand on homeschooling. If there is a local or state official that isn’t “homeschool friendly” work to support a candidate who is. If there isn’t a suitable candidate, consider running yourself.
  2. If you are not already a member, join HSLDA. I personally consider membership a must for any homeschooling family.
  3. Consider supporting ParentalRights.Org. (Truth in advertising – My daughter is the Deputy Director of the organization.) They are working on a long term solution to the issue via a constitutional amendment.
  4. Join CHEO – Christian Home Educators of Ohio. They work to promote homeschooling at the state level. They also employ a part-time lobbyist to stay abreast of possible legal threats and to maintain relationships with lawmakers.
  5. Be alert. The California case described above began as a child welfare case and the proceedings were kept secret until the ruling was handed down. As a result, HSLDA and the California State knew nothing about it. If you hear or see anything that causes concern, let one of the PEACH officers know about it.

If we each do our part, hopefully we won’t be caught flat-footed if a challenge like the one in California happens here.

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PEACH provides general information about home education regulations and Ohio state requirements for homeschoolers. The information on this website is not a substitute for professional legal advice, and should not be treated as such.