|The Maine Department of Education sent a letter (see attached) to many families last week repeating many of the totally off-base things they have been saying for the last 12 months—and adding a few new bloopers. First I want to salute the many Maine families who faithfully comply with the law even while department officials do not respect their own lawful boundaries.|
Here’s a summary of guidance I’ve given in the past year regarding the state.
Now let’s talk about the new letter.
I won’t restate my responses to the old nonsense the department put in last week’s letter (see the articles above for that). I will respond only to the new nonsense.
The letter says, “these items [birth date and school year] are now officially part of the home instruction requirements.”
Really? Who made those requirements “official?” The department has exactly zero authority to change home instruction requirements. It is inexcusable to make such a statement to the public. The legislature has not changed the requirements.
The letter implies that the department has the power to “recognize the attendance status” of a child, and then threatens to withhold it from families who do not comply.
Here’s the problem: the department has NO power to “recognize” the status of a home instruction student! A threat to not do something it has no power to do in the first place strikes me as ridiculous.
The department’s next empty threat is that it will not give information about your homeschool program to CPS agencies, post-secondary education agencies, or career agencies if you don’t comply.
Here’s the problem: it’s against the law for the department to give any information to anyone about your homeschool program except in very narrow exceptional circumstances!
The department’s last empty threat is that it will not give others confirmation or verification of your program if you do not comply.
Here’s the problem: even if it were not against the law (as mentioned above), the Department has no authority to “confirm” or “verify” anyone’s homeschool program!
Here is what the Maine Legislature wants to happen. Under Maine statute 20-A ₴5001-A.3.A(4)(c), you are required to keep copies of everything you file annually. On the other hand, neither the department nor your local school unit are required to keep any of your records. The primary job of keeping homeschool records is yours.
In addition, it is very important that you keep some kind of record that proves you filed what you were supposed to file. Officials have been known to lose records. Sometimes official records get hacked and destroyed. Sometimes officials refuse to give copies of records even when a lawful request has been submitted. It is not wise to rely on a state or local official. Keeping your records is truly your job. And that is how the Maine Legislature designed the statutes.
Homeschooling is a declaration of independence from public school authorities. You must also be independent in keeping your own records.