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January 8, 2018

January 10 Hearing for New Homeschool Rules

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SCOTT WOODRUFF
Contact attorney for Arkansas

Largely as a result of tremendous improvements in the Arkansas homeschool statutes over the past several years, the Department of Education is in the process of bringing the homeschool regulations—which are intended to implement the statutes—up to date.

I have read all of the proposed regulation changes, and the great majority of them are well-written, appropriate, and accurately implement the new statutes. Click here to see the proposed changes.

Under Arkansas law, the public has a right to submit comments and testify at a hearing on proposed regulatory changes. For the proposed revisions to the homeschool regulations, the last date for submitting comments to the department is January 17, with a public hearing scheduled for January 10. The department will either make changes in response to the comments and testimony at the hearing, or move toward finalization of the regulations without any changes.

I plan to submit comments to the department requesting two changes outlined below, but I do not plan to testify at the hearing on January 10.

Proposed regulation 5.06 would require families to notarize their notice of intent if their student plans to seek a high school equivalency diploma. This requirement does not exist in the homeschool statutes.

A separate statute requires families to submit a notarized copy of their notice of intent if and when their student starts the process of obtaining a GED. Under the homeschool statutes, however, a family has the freedom to file a notice of intent without notarizing it, even if they intend to seek a GED later that year.

That freedom should be respected in the regulations. This is why I will ask the department to make a change.

The Arkansas homeschool regulations have required for many years that families file their notice of intent on a form the department creates. Using this form has become quite routine.

Although seldom recognized, the homeschool statutes give parents the freedom to submit the notice of intent with its required information without using any form. The regulations are out of step with the statute in this regard.

Using a form—even a very good form—has pros as well as cons. In the final analysis, however, each family should have the freedom to make their own decision. This is why I will ask the Department to make a change and remove the language in the regulations purporting to require families to use the department’s form.

We are not recommending that families take any action at this point.

We deeply appreciate the hard work of The Education Alliance in helping to bring about the advances in freedom which have triggered the need to revise the regulations. And we are grateful for the many ways in which the Arkansas Department of Education has maintained a collegial and supportive relationship with the homeschool community.