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North Dakota
North Dakota

June 20, 2006

Family Encounters Problems With Monitor

In North Dakota, a parent having a high school diploma or a general education development (GED) certificate may supervise a home education program but must be monitored by a state-certified teacher for the first two years of the program. (The monitoring requirements do not apply to a parent who is a state-certified teacher, has passed a national teacher examination, or has a bachelor’s degree.) The homeschool law requires that the monitor spend an average of one hour per week with the child and the child’s parent. Based upon the observations of the monitor, the monitor is supposed to report the child’s progress to the local superintendent twice during each school year.

A Home School Legal Defense Association member family residing in the Powers Lake 27 School District encountered a problem with the monitor assigned to them when the monitor insisted that the mother (1) prepare and submit weekly lesson plans, (2) provide the monitor with grades for the student every nine weeks, and (3) permit the monitor to review the student’s curriculum and schoolbooks. The monitor was also unwilling to agree upon a schedule for monitoring that was mutually convenient to the family and the monitor.

After being contacted by the family for assistance, HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt Black wrote a letter to the superintendent of the school district pointing out that the monitor’s proper function was to monitor the home education program, not supervise it as she was attempting to do. Black pointed out that there is no requirement in state law that homeschooling parents develop weekly lesson plans or submit any such lesson plans to the monitor. Further, state law does not prescribe any particular period for grades to be issued by the parent for a student or require that the parent issue any grades at all. While it is permissible for the monitor to review the textbooks utilized in the home education program, the monitor may not insist that any particular textbooks be used in the program.

Regarding the difficulty in scheduling a time for the monitoring to take place, Black said in his letter that nothing in the law authorizes the monitor to unilaterally decide when contact with the child and the child’s parent will take place. There must be a reasonable approach to scheduling, such that the needs of the family can be accommodated. No unannounced monitoring visits are acceptable at any time.

HSLDA member families encountering similar problems with their monitors should contact us for assistance.