Legislation that might affect you…

We received this email from the Utah Home Education Association. Thank you for the heads up Karianne.

Dear Utah Home School Families and Supporters,

The UHEA supports the majority of Senator Aaron Osmond’s bill, SB39. We appreciate his proactive approach at addressing the needs and continuing success of an ever growing portion of Utah’s student population.

However, we also have some concerns with certain portions of the good Senator’s bill. Our main concern is the seemingly discriminatory nature of singling out one segment of non-publically educated students to the exclusion of transfers from private, military, boarding, out-of-state, or religious schools and consideration of current practice. While state law currently allows for testing upon initial placement in public school for all students, current practice in Utah is placement of public and home school students based on age, with little, if any, regard to skill level or knowledge base. Only in the most extreme cases is a child held back for remediation. To subject only home school students to unique scrutiny and a divergent method of class assignment is inimical to the goal of good education. This language concerns us:

A school district or charter school shall assess the academic knowledge and skills of a home school student who enrolls full time in a public school. In assigning a grade level to a home school student who enrolls full time in a public school, a school district or charter school shall give primary consideration to the student’s academic knowledge and skills. A parent may request a subsequent assessment of a student’s academic knowledge and skills if a school district or charter school assigns the student to a grade or class level that is below the student’s age level based on the student’s performance on an initial assessment. (SB39 lines 118-128)

Although grade level assignment by skill level may be a laudable goal, it is self-defeating if it is not generally applied. The result, if passed, would be to isolate and stigmatize home schooled students, especially since there is no provision for students who test above their grade level. For instance, if a 14 year old student tested on a 12th grade level, would that student be granted a diploma?

Secondly, line 106 – 108 states, “A local school board shall issue a certificate excusing a school-age minor from attendance within [30] 60 days after receipt of a signed and notarized affidavit filed by the school-age minor’s parent pursuant to Subsection (2).”

A few years ago, Senator Madsen spearheaded  a change from 60 to 30 days to insure home school parents receive their exemptions in a timely manner. At that time some Utah school districts were abusing the 60 day policy and causing undue strain on Utah home schooling families.

The UHEA Board has not received sufficient information justifying the change from 30 to 60 days time allowance for a School Board to return a submitted affidavit. In our experience, most districts return these exemptions well within the 30 day timeframe.

If you share our concerns, please consider taking one, or more, of the following actions:

1) Write to your senator. Inform him/her that you are a constituent. Copy all Utah senators in your email. Share your concerns regarding Senator Osmond’s bill, SB39.

2) Call your senator. Call as many senators as you can. Share your concerns regarding Senator Osmond’s bill, SB39.

Here are the Senate email addresses:

lrobles@le.utah.govjdabakis@le.utah.govgdavis@le.utah.gov,pjones@le.utah.govkmayne@le.utah.govwharper@le.utah.gov,dhenderson@le.utah.govbshiozawa@le.utah.gov,wniederhauser@le.utah.govaosmond@le.utah.govhstephenson@le.utah.govdthatcher@le.utah.gov,mmadsen@le.utah.govjvalentine@le.utah.govmdayton@le.utah.gov,curt@cbramble.com,  pknudson@le.utah.govscreid@le.utah.gov,achristensen@le.utah.govsjenkins@le.utah.gov,jwstevenson@le.utah.govjsadams@le.utah.govtweiler@le.utah.gov,rokerlund@le.utah.govlhillyard@le.utah.govkvantassell@le.utah.gov,dhinkins@le.utah.govevickers@le.utah.govsurquhart@le.utah.gov

To locate your senator and his/her contact information, including phone number, please go here.

The UHEA Board works hard to protect home school families and their children in Utah. We appreciate your support and action at this critical time.

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