Update on the Alachua County School Board Policy

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The Home Education Foundation Newsletter

Home Educators' Voice At The Capitol - Florida
Providing information and insights to Florida Home Educators October 11, 2015


The background for this update was provided in an HEF Newsletter dated August 2015 and is archived on the HEF website.

NEOLA is a company several Florida school boards have contracted with to write policy

Prior to the Task Force Meeting

Following the School Board meeting on July 21, 2015, and prior to the Task Force meeting on October 9, 2015, Brenda contacted Dr. Richard Clapp, President of NEOLA.  She worked with him to draft a better home education policy for the Alachua County School Board.  He provided several drafts and the fourth revision was sent the morning of the Task Force meeting.  This was the draft that we used to begin our work on the Task Force.

Alachua County Task Force Meeting

On Friday, October 9, the Task Force met in Gainesville.  The Task Force was composed of:

  • Tasha Scheer, home school mom and attorney
  • Brenda Dickinson, President of the Home Education Foundation
  • Steven Stark, Director of Research, Assessment and Student Zoning for Alachua County Public Schools
  • Kathy Black, Director of Exceptional Student Education for Alachua County Public Schools
  • Brian Moore, Esq., Alachua County School Board Staff Attorney

Dr. Owen Roberts, Superintendent of Alachua County Public Schools, welcomed us and spent about 15 minutes sharing his life, experience and perspective with us.  He is truly a kind, humble and reasonable man who cares about children and parental rights.  He was open to our opinions and after a brief dialogue, left the room and the work of the Task Force to us.  We spent the next 2 hours discussing different aspects of the policy and finally came to a consensus.  The agreed upon policy will follow the home education laws.  It will also allow part-time enrollment in Alachua County Schools and will allow parents of children with suspected disabilities to receive testing and evaluations as well as the services consistent with the child’s IEP. 

Next Step

Hopefully, the Alachua County policy will become the NEOLA template.  NEOLA sends out updates to their policies on a regular basis, and it is our hope that they will send this update to the other school boards that they serve as soon as possible.  If the school boards in those counties adopt the updated policies, then home educators will not have to work through this same process in those counties.  HEF hopes that this change in policy in Alachua will help us change the Miami-Dade School Board policy in the near future.  However, Broward County has also started asking for additional information from home educators as they register their child.  Unfortunately, Broward is not one of the counties that NEOLA serves so we may have to contact the school board members and request that they change their policy like we did in Alachua County. 

NEOLA may be willing to help update the policies for the other counties that they serve which include:  Polk, Miami-Dade, Gadsden, Liberty, Pasco, Collier, DeSoto, Putnam, Brevard, Pinellas, Monroe, Martin, Manatee, Franklin, Indian River and possibly Hillsborough and Madison. You can tell if the policy was written by NEOLA because you will see ©NEOLA at the bottom of the policy. Please check the school board policy in your county today to see if it is a policy friendly to home education or not.  Let HEF know if your county’s policy needs to be added to the list of counties we need to change.

Volunteers Needed

It is becoming more and more apparent that HEF needs “Protectors of Freedom” in as many counties as possible.  HEF has no staff and depends on volunteers to help protect home education freedoms in Florida.  Brenda’s primary responsibility is lobbying in the Florida Legislature and it is impossible for her to keep track of all 67 school board policy changes.  She needs your help to keep up with the school board actions and bring any proposed changes to the home education policies to the attention of HEF for review. 

As soon as HEF receives the agreed upon Alachua County School Board policy, it will be sent out to you.  So, please forward this email to your home education friends.  Ask them to subscribe to the HEF Newsletter at www.flhef.org.

While you are on the website, please consider making a donation to HEF.  The work of HEF is supported entirely by donations.  It cost money to travel across the state and to represent the interests of home educators. Since HEF is not a 501(c)(3), it is hard to get corporations or large donors to contribute to the work.  So, HEF depends on donations from home educators who understand and value the work done on their behalf.


Home Schoolers on the Ridge HEF Fund Raiser

HEF works to ensure that we can continue to home school with great freedom. Your family and homeschool group can help by collecting Box Tops.

H.S.O.T.R. will redeem the box tops. If your group is interested in collecting the Box Tops mail them to HEF at PO BOX 12563, Tallahassee, FL 32317 and we will forward them to the H.S.O.T.R. Thank you!
 

The Home Education Foundation is supported solely by contributions of Florida home educators.


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