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7-9-13: Purcelville, Virginia: HSLDA sends e-mail about Ohio HS freedom Threatened!

HSLDA sent an e-mail today outlining details about a recent court case they took on about Ohio's "14 calendar days" for superintendents of school districts to send a compliance notice or a plan to give the family more time to comply and attend a hearing. This case is representative of a consant misinterpretatin of the law. There was no way the district was going to win in court and HSLDA knew it. It is wonderful news that HSLDA created the court-precedent to reinforce the understanding on the 14 calendar days the district has to send notice of compliance with the law. This actually should be celebrated. Additonally, this story is precisely why we need to exercise our Constitutional right to elect who represents us in Ohio. This is a huge point for home schoolers around the country to get active as they've never been before. I remember in 1988, my wife and I never hesitated to home school from the beginning. We went to the superintendent's office with a four-page "application" and a two-page "home schooling agreement", responses all typed out with a typewriter, a tape recorder to make sure every word of the conversation could be documented for HSLDA and a determination that "this guy was not going to stop us" from home educating. That was one year before the regs. Listen folks, the time we are living in is a wake-up call. We are all on the verge of losing much of our freedom. But as long as Ohioans for Educational Freedom, CHEO and HSLDA exist, in concert with the local support groups, we have a fighting chance. OEF needs your help, at the moment, to fight Common Core, along with the other groups. The Romeikes have to wait this out. We can do something, now.

7-2-13: Columbus, Ohio: Ohio Home Schoolers Have Opportunity for Sports!

Story authored by Paula Bolyard: When Ohio Governor John Kasich signed the state’s $62 billiontwo-year budget into law on Sunday night (specific text, here), some homeschoolers were stunned to find out that tucked inside was language (3313.5312) expanding the rights of homeschooled and private school students. They will now be permitted to participate in extracurricular activities in the public schools in their home districts, including high school athletics. Without debate or fanfare, legislators added an amendment in the finance committee before the final vote giving homeschoolers (and private school students whose schools do not offer a particular activity) the right to join their local public schools for extracurricular activities:

“A student who is receiving home instruction…shall be afforded, by the superintendent of the school district in which the student is entitled to attend school…the opportunity to participate in any extracurricular activity offered at the district school to which the student otherwise would be assigned during that school year.”

Rep. Dave Hall (R-Millersburg) inserted the amendment without objection. He told me on Tuesday morning that it was an open process in the finance committee rather than something slipped in at the last minute:

“I did it on the finance committee in front of many stakeholders. There was no behind the doors deal. It was basically up front. It was amended in and accepted by the committee…so we did use the process correctly.”

Hall said that his office had been working with local stakeholders in the homeschooling community in his district to draft a bill to give homeschoolers the right to participate in extracurricular activities, but saw an opportunity with the budget process. “We were reforming education on the funding side and so it was the perfect opportunity to put the amendment right into the budget.”

Hall’s Chief of Staff, Mike McGuire, who had been homeschooled and denied the opportunity to participate in high school athletics, helped move the issue: “He was a frustrated young man trying to get on the tennis team. He educated myself and many others on the issue.”

Prior to the new law, home educated students could only participate in extracurricular activities at their local schools if the school board permitted it.

Ohio’s districts offered a patchwork of policies, many of them banning participation altogether, while others required various levels of part-time enrollment as a condition for participation. The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) allowed home educated high school athletes to participate in high school sports only if their local school board permitted it and only “in accordance with the partial enrollment policy of a Board of Education.” The majority of districts in Ohio did not offer such a policy, severely limiting opportunities for homeschooled students to participate in high school athletics. With the new law, every district in the state will now be required to permit homeschooled students to participate in extracurricular activities—including high school athleticsLike only ten other states, these students will now have equal access to expanded opportunities in their local public schools.

Also included in the new accessibility law are students who attend private schools. Such schools can’t always offer the wide array of extracurricular activities found at the taxpayer-funded public schools.  The new law mirrors the legally required accessibility and equal access enjoyed by charter schools (called community schools) in Ohio. The law does not require homeschooled students to attend the public school as a requirement for participation in activities. Hall said the senate tried to add language allowing superintendents to require part-time enrollment in school, but that language was struck from the final budget. The academic requirements for homeschooled students who wish to participate are simple: continue to “meet any academic requirements established by the state board of education for the continuation of home instruction.”

Those who fear that student athletes struggling in school will drop out to homeschool as a way to circumvent academic requirements need not be concerned. Those students will have their eligibility based upon their prior public school interim assessment reports. If a student withdraws from school for the purpose of homeschooling at a time he is academically ineligible to participate in extracurricular activities, he is ineligible for the remainder of the semester and must re-establish academic eligibility the following semester.

While other states (Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, Virginia) have been trying to pass various versions of the “Tebow Bill” to give homeschoolers equal access to extracurricular activities (with slow progress thus far), Ohio legislators changed the state’s policy rather suddenly by quietly adding an amendment to the state’s budget.

This is sure to shake up both the homeschooling community (which isn’t universally in support of such measures) and the athletic world. But Hall says it is be a “win-win” for all involved:

“This allows good, quality education on both sides. And really, truly I think, relationship-building will be strengthened because people have the opportunity to work with the other students. I’m a former coach ‘way back when’ and when you’re a coach you don’t look at where they come from, who their parents are. You look at the individual. You don’t look at the background…I think it strengthens the area and the community by bringing kids together. That’s my belief.”

Original Story: PJ Media

6-12-13 Columbus, Ohio: Ohio Considers Property Tax Credit for Home Schooling

By Maggie Thurber | For Ohio Watchdog

Since the beginning of the home-schooling trend, parents have noted that they pay double to educate their children — once for the education they’re providing at home and again in the property and other taxes they pay to the local school district for public education.

That double payment will stop if S.B. 127 is approved by the Ohio General Assembly.

“Home-school students are taught with no financial assistance from government,” said Sen. Kris JordanR-Ostrander, the bill’s sponsor. “I think that (it) is only right to allow these families to keep more of their hard-earned dollars to make up for the cost of educating their children.”

Christian Home Educators of Ohio (CHEO) supports the idea of a property tax credit but have some concerns about the pending legislation.

Under the terms of the legislation, a home-school parent would make application to the county auditor for a reduction equal to the school district property taxes that are levied on the parent’s home.  Reductions would begin in the 2014 tax year for taxes paid in 2015.

The applications would require information necessary to establish eligibility for the reduction, but must include a certified copy of the papers filed by school district superintendent showing the qualifications of the person conducting the home schooling.

If an application is denied, the reasons must be provided and the parent may appeal the denial to the county’s board of revision.

Jay Smith, a lobbyist with the Ohio School Board Association, said the OSBA does not support the bill.

“We see public education as a benefit for society and this just siphons away money that would be used for public education,” he said. “We will definitely participate if there is opponent testimony for the bill. We usually do when there is an issue that generates money for public education.”

Smith also said there were concerns about how such a provision would actually function.

“If there was lost revenue due to a tax credit — or any bill — we’d want to see that replaced,” he said.

Melanie Elsey, the legislative liaison for the nonprofit Christian Home Educators of Ohio, said her group supports the idea of a property tax reduction, but has some concerns about how the language is constructed.

“We’re working with Sen. Jordan and the Home School Legal Defense Association to address those concerns and expect that there will be some willingness to make changes to ensure there are no unintended consequences,” she said.

OEF will work to any end to assist CHEO and HSLDA to make sure parents in Ohio have a fair shot at recouping taxes. Mark Stevenson, director of Ohioans for Educational Freedom stated, "Ohioans for Educational Freedom actively supports CHEO and HSLDA in this groundbreaking legislation to give Ohio parents, that home educate and are property owners, to justifiably recover their precious tax dollars, instead of contributing to other educational options. This is long overdue and will alleviate being overtaxed."

The bill is pending in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Below is the outlined process for applying for a tax credit in SB 127:

(C)(1) To obtain a reduction in taxes under division (B) of this section, a home school parent shall file an application with the county auditor of the county in which the home school parent's homestead is located. If the home school parent is seeking a reduction in real property taxes, the application is due after the first Monday in January and not later than the first Monday in June of the year for which the reduction is sought. If the home school parent is seeking a reduction in manufactured home taxes, the application is due after the first Monday in January and not later than the first Monday in June of the year preceding the year for which the reduction is sought.
(2) The application shall be in the form of a signed statement on a document, devised and supplied by the tax commissioner, which shall require no more information than is necessary to establish the applicant's eligibility for the reduction in taxes and the amount of the reduction. The application shall contain a statement that conviction of willfully falsifying information to obtain a reduction in taxes or failing to comply with this section results in the revocation of the right to reduction for a period of three years.
(3) The application shall be accompanied by a certified copy of the papers showing the qualifications of the person instructing the child at home executed and filed under division (A)(2) of section 3321.04 of the Revised Code by the superintendent of the city or exempted village school district or the educational service center in which the child resides.
(4) A home school parent may file a late application for a tax reduction after the first Monday in January and not later than the first Monday in June of the year immediately following the year in which the application was due under division (C)(1) of this section. If the county auditor determines the information contained in the late application is correct, the auditor shall determine the amount of the reduction in taxes to which the applicant would have been entitled for the applicable tax year had the applicant's application been timely filed and approved.
The amount of such reduction shall be treated by the auditor as an overpayment of taxes by the applicant and shall be refunded in the manner prescribed by section 5715.22 of the Revised Code for making refunds of overpayments.
(5) No person shall knowingly make a false statement for the purpose of obtaining a reduction in the person's real property or manufactured home taxes under this section.

1-14-13 Columbus, Ohio: What has to be the strongest show of change on Ohio's State Board of Education in years, all but one At-Large seat was filled as the OSBE convened for business in 2013. Debe Terhar was re-elected by unanimous vote for board president and Thomas Gunlock was unanimously re-elected board vice-president while Bryan C. Williams (Dist.5), Michael Collins (Dist. 6), Sarah Fowler (Dist. 7), Stephanie Dodd (Dist. 9), Jeff Hardin (Dist. 10) and Mary Rose Oakar (Dist. 11) were seated from the November elections. Also, At-Large re-appointmenets are C. Thomas Jones, Angela Thi Bennett, who were seated along with new At-Large appointments, Dr. Mark A. Smith and Darryl D. Mehaffie. All appear to be school choice advocates as they are assumed to fit the Governor's education policies. Stanley Jackson was not re-appointed, leaving one vacancy, as of 12:00pm today.

With Ohio education policy, the board re-assesses its effectiveness and quality continually. The new board is sure to continue options for Ohio's parents for school choice. In 2011, Terhar was the challenger for an incumbent, Robin Hovis, who had assumed after several years that his time had come to take the reigns of the board's presidency leadership. But he was turned away through a bizarre set of circumstances as Angela Thi Bennett had been appointed by Governor Kasich to take the place of Martha Harris.

Many eyes will be watching to see what the board has in mind for charters, vouchers, home schooling and "08" schools (non-public, non-charted). Here is the Columbus Dispatch's article on today's proceedings.

Gov't Bribing School Children with Candy to Wear RFID Chip

Dayton Daliy News article supposedly about home schooling, public officials comment

Home Educators in Ohio,

Two years ago, Ohioans for Educational Freedom endorsed and supported 4 candidates that were running for State Board of Education (a group that has oversight over our home education regulations). Of those 4 candidates, we won 2 seats. As a new organization, this was a substantial victory.

Unfortunately, one of the seats we didn't win is now filled by Jerry J. Mims, Jr. A recent article in the Dayton Daily News concerning lack of oversight for home schooling stated that Mims believes more safegaurds should be in place. He is quoted as saying, “We shouldn’t be functioning just on a crisis level.”

We can't do anything about Mims for 2 more years. But we do have the opportunity to make sure 7 other seats are filled with candidates who support our right to home educate, and not filled by those who would take away our freedoms. It will take both money and volunteers to make sure this happens. Will you work with OEF in this election year to keep the State Board of Education home school friendly? We have a plan in place but need money, now. Please make your check out today to:

PO Box 8777
Canton, Ohio  44711-8777

We are working on the SBE now, and don't want to be without support.

Mark Stevenson
Ohioans for Educational Freedom


11-6-12: OEF endorses Larry Obhof in his candidacy for Ohio Senate District 22.

10-17-12: OEF endorses Christina Hagan in her candidacy for Ohio House District 50, Matt Lynch in his candidacy for Ohio House District 76 and Bill Seitz in his candidacy for Ohio Senate District 8.

10-13-12: OEF endorses Lou Terhar in his candidacy for Ohio House District 30.

10-4-12: OEF issues a dual endorsement to Sarah Fowler and John Sans in their candidacy for State Board of Education District 7.

9-15-12: THE BUZZ: OEF has endorsed 12 statewide candidates, to date. Not all of the questionnaires are back. Regional Rally tomorrow near Columbus for SBE candidates in Dist. 6 & 9!

9-10-12: OEF endoroses Patty Gascoyne-Telischak in her candidacy for Ohio House District 15, Nick Skeriotis in his candidacy for Ohio House District 75, Ron Hood in his candidacy for Ohio House District 78, John Becker in his candidacy for Ohio House District 65 and Nancy McArthur for her candidacy for Ohio State Senate District 32.

8-27-12: OEF endorses Bryan Williams in his candidacy for SBE District 5, Jeff Hardin in his candidacy for SBE District 10 and Beverly Goldstein in her candidacy for SBE District 11. OEF also endorses Monique Cox-Moore in her candidacy for Ohio House District 49. We encourage all parental-choice in education advocates to work to get Bryan, Jeff, Beverly and Monique elected!

8-22-12: OEF endoses John Stacy in his candidacy for SBE District 6 and Stanley Jackson for his candidacy for SBE District 1. We encourage all parental-choice in education advocates to work to get John and Stanley elected!

8-21-12: OEF endorses Philip Gerth in his candidacy for SBE District 9. We encourage all parental-choice in education advocates to work to get Philip elected!

2-10-12: OEF endorses its first candidates of the 2012 primary season: Ron Hood, State House District 78 and John Becker, State House District 65.

9-23-11: OEF Director, Mark Stevenson, is published in the national home schooling magazine, Practical Homeschooling! It's called, "Remembering our finest political hour."

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