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3/15/01 1:47:26 PM
Scott A. Woodruff, Esq., Staff Attorney of HSLDA
Maine--Crackdown on home schoolers and warning concerning Waterville system

From the HSLDA@Capitol Hill E-lert Service...

March 15, 2001

Crackdown on home schoolers and warning concerning Waterville system

Dear Maine Members and Friends:

Many home school families have received a threatening letter from
Edwin N. Kastuck, with the School Approval Office of the Maine
Department of Education. The letter states that an assessment has not
been received for a particular child, offers some suggestions for
obtaining an assessment, and states:

Failure to submit an assessment by April 2, 2001, could affect the
approval of your 2001-02 application(s). Furthermore, failure to
submit the assessment, and subsequent non-approval of your 2001-02
home schooling application, will result in the department notifying
your local superintendent of schools that your child may be
considered truant.

It is our opinion that a family's application for the 2001-2002
school year cannot lawfully be denied based on the failure to submit
an assessment for the 1999-2000 school year. Parents who operate
under the Chapter 130 home schooling regulations should, of course,
submit an assessment for the 2000-2001 school year at or before the
time they submit an application for the 2001-2002 school year.

The Department of Education has recently been criticized for its
practices concerning enforcement of the Chapter 130 home school
regulations. It appears the department is responding to this
criticism with an effort to enforce the regulations more strictly.
The entire set of home school regulations can be located on our
website at The
Department of Education believes that approximately 1,200 home school
families have failed to submit a required assessment. If you received
a letter from Mr. Kastuck asking for an assessment from a previous
year, you are not alone.

It has recently come to light that the former superintendent of
Waterville Public Schools, Edward J. LeBlanc, asked home school
families to fill out equivalent instruction application forms and
send them to him, rather than to the Commissioner of Education. Only
the Commissioner has authority to approve equivalent instruction
applications. Families who mailed this form only to LeBlanc are not
protected from a civil or criminal action to enforce the compulsory
attendance law. There is evidence that LeBlanc may have been using
this scheme to pad enrollment figures and thereby get extra state
money for the Waterville Public school system.

The current superintendent, Eric Haley, is aware of the situation and
is very apologetic. I have asked him to apologize to each home school
family that was mislead and ask each family if they want him to
forward the completed forms to the Commissioner of Education or take
other appropriate action. He indicated his willingness to do this.

We do not know if any other local superintendent has tried to usurp
the role of the Commissioner as LeBlanc did. If you are aware of any
superintendent who has asked families to send the application for
equivalent instruction to him rather than to the Commissioner, please
let me know.

Sincerely yours,

Scott A. Woodruff, Esq

Home School Legal Defense Association
P.O. Box 3000
Purcellville, Virginia 20134
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 Other Resources

More information on Maine's Senate Bill 129