Originally Sent: 3/13/2015

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Victory for Homeschool Modernization Law: HB 2793 Passes Senate!

Homeschooling in West Virginia.

Thank your legislators.

HSLDA staff attorney Mike Donnelly helps protect homeschool freedom in your community.

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

Thanks to your efforts throughout the process, HB 2793, the Homeschool Modernization Law, has passed the Senate! The bill passed the House by a vote of 94–0 and was unanimous in the Senate. Thanks to all who participated in this outstanding effort to modernize our homeschool law!

HB 2793 becomes effective when signed by the governor and will have an immediate beneficial effect for your family. For example, the law no longer prohibits parents from testing their children as long as they are qualified by the published test guidelines.

Another beneficial change regarding annual standardized testing: Homeschoolers are no longer required to score in the 50th percentile or higher. They must now score within the national average. This effectively means that if your child scores above the 23rd percentile, he will be deemed to have made adequate academic progress. You may choose to continue having your children participate in a group testing program, or you may test them yourselves.

There are many other beneficial changes in the law, and I will send a complete review of all the changes in a follow-up email after the legislature completes its work and the laws have become effective—most likely sometime next week.

During the Senate’s third reading of the bill, there was a lengthy debate about whether parents should continue reporting each year to the superintendent. The bill passed by the House removed this requirement, but an amendment by Senator Stollings in the Education Committee reinstated the requirement to report annually. During the debate, opponents who spoke in favor of keeping the reporting requirement included Senators Plymale, Unger, Stollings, Romano, and others.

At one point, Senator Herb Snyder of Jefferson County moved to table an amendment to the bill which would have completely killed it. During the subsequent roll call vote on whether to table the amendment, all Democrats voted to kill the bill while all Republicans voted in favor of the bill.

The rhetoric from the Democrats during this debate was inflammatory and demeaning to the homeschooling community. For example, Senator Romano compared those who favored removing the reporting requirements to “anti-government kooks.” Others accused those who favored removing the reporting requirement to child abusers. Although I am disappointed we were unable to remove the unnecessary reporting requirement, HB 2793, along with SB 447 and HB 2674, make long-awaited and necessary changes to West Virginia’s formerly archaic homeschool law.

We especially want to thank the Republican senators who supported HB 2793 during the debate on the bill’s third reading, as well as Senator Cole, who allowed the bill so much floor time during a very busy season. Please take the time to send these senators, especially Senators Karnes, Blair, Gaunch, Hall, Carmichael, and Takubo, who all spoke in favor of removing the unnecessary reporting requirement. An email, phone call, or even a handwritten thank-you note is in order. As part of our celebration of this victory for homeschooling in West Virginia, let’s be sure to thank those delegates who sponsored this bill, including lead sponsor Delegate Kurcaba and co-sponsors, Delegates Statler, Ellington, Pasdon, Cooper, Ambler, and Kelly.

Action Requested

Please contact your senator and delegate, especially the Republican senators and the sponsoring delegates to thank them for supporting HB 2793. We also want to make sure we give special thanks to the chairs of the education committees who put these bills on the agendas of their committees. Senator David Sypolt chairs the Senate Education Committee, and homeschooled graduate Delegate Amanda Pasdon chairs the House Education Committee. A handwritten note is the most effective personal way of saying thank you. Consider writing a message such as this in your own words:

Dear Senator ____,
Thank you for your support of HB 2793, the Homeschool Modernization Bill. This bill will bring West Virginia’s homeschool law into the 21st century and more closely in alignment with other state laws. Homeschooled families have proven that they provide excellent educational instruction resulting in outstanding academic achievement. Updating West Virginia law to reflect that truth is a step forward in our state. Thank you for your service to West Virginia families.

You can find your senator and his mailing address here.

There are still other bills that will make positive changes to the homeschool environment in West Virginia, and as these bills make their way through the process, we will report to you. The session ends this Saturday at midnight.

For additional information on HB 2793, please visit our bill page.

It is a privilege to serve you and your family. If you or someone you know is not a member of HSLDA, may I invite you to join or encourage others to join? This work would not be possible without your support. I also want to recognize the work of CHEWV and their legislative liaison John Carey, as well as WVHEA and the families who came to the Capitol to testify and support these important efforts. I would encourage you to join or support these state homeschooling organizations as well.

Montani Semper Liberi!

Mike Donnelly

Michael P. Donnelly, Esq.
Staff Attorney

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