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September 17, 2012

State Board of Education Leaves Homeschool Regulation off Its Agenda

Scott Woodruff answers questions and assists members regarding legal issues in Kansas. He and his wife homeschooled their children. Read more >>

Despite an earlier threat to discuss new legislation to create homeschool regulations, we are happy to report that the Kansas State Board of Education’s agenda for its coming September 18–19 meeting contains no reference whatsoever to homeschooling or private schools.

This saga began on Tuesday, August 14. The Lawrence Journal-World reported Board Chairman David Dennis as saying that perhaps the board should propose legislation to increase state reporting requirements for homeschoolers to ensure that children are being taught. The board agreed to discuss the issue further at its September meeting.

Kansas has a sensible legal framework for homeschooling involving a low level of wasteful red tape and a significant performance standard (all private school teachers must be “competent.”) Homeschool families across the state therefore reacted with surprise and indignation at Dennis’ suggestion that new regulation is needed.

On Wednesday, HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff wrote an open letter to Dennis reminding him that the board has no jurisdiction over non-accredited private schools, and urging him to guide the board to operate within its statutory mandate of governing public schools.

Media Takes Interest

A number of media reports followed that helped maintain a high level of interest. On Friday, HSLDA sent an email in coordination with the Christian Home Educators Confederation of Kansas (CHECK) urging families to write or call their elected board members. Kent Vincent, legislative liaison for CHECK, made important personal contacts with several board members.

With phone calls and emails pouring in to board members, on Monday Chairman Dennis stated publicly that he did not see a reason to discuss homeschool legislation at the board’s September meeting. With a resolution appearing to be virtually certain, HSLDA, working with CHECK, sent an email on Wednesday saying no more calls to the board were needed.

Two weeks later Chairman Dennis supplied us with a copy of the formal agenda for the board’s September 18–19 meeting. Several legislative items were listed, but consistent with his most recent statement, none is connected with homeschooling or private schooling. We appreciate Dennis’ open ear to the concerns of homeschool families.

While Kansas homeschoolers face threats from prosecutors, social workers and school superintendents on a somewhat regular basis, they have never faced an active legislative threat to the content of the laws upon which homeschooling is based. However, judging by the vigorous response of families to this situation, it is likely that an effort to add new homeschool regulations would be met with unified and energetic opposition.