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April 12, 2013

Playing Field Leveled For Scholarship Program

HSLDA Senior Counsel Dee Black assists members with questions and issues regarding Arkansas homeschool law. He and his wife homeschooled their children. Read more >>

On March 26, 2013, Governor Mike Beebe signed into law House Bill 1629 intended to eliminate discrimination against homeschool graduates trying to qualify for a college scholarship under the Governor’s Scholars Program. The problem arose when the Arkansas Department of Higher Education unfairly exercised its authority in assigning “value points” for academic achievement and leadership in determining which students would receive the scholarships. The law required that the following criteria be used to evaluate all applicants: standardized test scores; grade point average; class ranking; and leadership in school, community, and employment. Because homeschool graduates were most often the only graduates in their class and were not in a traditional school setting to demonstrate leadership, the department of higher education granted few, if any, value points to these criteria. While the bill was originally drafted to provide relief only to homeschool students, it was amended to prohibit the department of higher education from assigning weight to any of the criteria that would create a disadvantage to a student in a homeschool, public school, or private school.

The law went into effect on the day the governor signed the bill, expressly stating that it was to be applied to scholarships awarded for the 2013-2014 school year.

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