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NHELD, LLC examines and explains the history of the law pertaining to homeschooling, and the authority of parents to instruct their children from the inception of the Connecticut colony to the present. It is important to note that the governmental authority to regulate education, as well as all other issues not mentioned specifically mentioned in the Federal Constitution, is left up to the states. Therefore, each state's laws regarding homeschooling will differ (see the
Statutes page for more details).

Below are articles written which speak about Connecticut history regarding parental rights and homeschooling. In the future, we hope to add the history of homeschooling of all states.


Parental Authority 

Connecticut Homeschool History 

Reinforcement of Parental Authority

Other Frequently Asked Questions


 

OTHER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS.

What is 'truancy' and can Connecticut homeschoolers be considered truant?

Truancy, or being truant, does not apply to homeschoolers: it is defined by state statute as "a child age five to eighteen, inclusive, who is enrolled in a public or private school and has four unexcused absences from school in any one month or ten unexcused absences from school in any school year." 

Truancy is, by its nature, applicable to "compulsory attendance" (the requirement that a child enrolled in public school must attend said school), not to "compulsory education" (the requirement that children must receive an education). The truancy statute, Conn. Gen. Stat. 10-198a, specifically provides that "children who are enrolled in public and private schools" and who receive a certain number of "unexcused absences" shall be considered truant. Homeschooled children, by definition, are not "enrolled in a public or a private school", and in a homeschool, there is no such thing as an "unexcused absence" - therefore they cannot be considered truant.

Just to make the meaning of the truancy statute perfectly clear to superintendents, CT's C.U.R.E. requested Senator Kevin Sullivan to propose an amendment to that statute.  He did so and the legislature passed the amendment into law.  That amendment is now known as Conn. Gen. Stat. 10-198a(e).  It states, in affirmation of the other existing laws, that the provisions of the truancy statute "shall not apply" to those children receiving equivalent instruction in accordance with Conn. Gen. Stat. 10-184.

On two other occasions since that time, on behalf of homeschoolers, State Representative Arthur O'Neill proposed amendments that would strengthen parental authority concerning home education.  Representative O'Neill succeeded in persuading the legislature to adopt those amendments.  They are now known as 10-184a and 10-184b.  Their importance to this discussion is only to show that the policy position of the Connecticut Board of Education, the Connecticut Department of Education, and the Connecticut General Assembly, for hundreds of years, as reinforced as recently as this past decade, has been that parents have the obligation and the authority to educate their own children. That policy should not be changed.
 

Why does the issue of regulation keep being raised?

     When asserting the "need" for regulation, the two issues that primarily are emphasized are the issues of equivalent instruction and potential parental neglect.  These issues were thoroughly debated and studied in 1989-1990 prior to issuance of the C-14 Guidelines.  Some of the conclusions that were drawn at that time included the following:

      Equivalent Instruction

It is impossible to define equivalent instruction. For example:

a. If superintendents are to determine if the instruction in a homeschool is equivalent to that in the public schools, which public schools should we use as the standard? Should the instruction be equivalent to the public school in downtown Hartford or to the public school in Westport? Should we determine that it is equivalent at the beginning of the year or at the end of the year? What happens if the curricula or materials in the public school change?  Do we assess the homeschool based on the equivalency of the old curricula and materials or the new?

b. How do we assess the child's progress? Do we impose a standardized test based on the curricula as taught in the public school, or do we impose a standardized test based on the curricula in the homeschool? If we base it on the curricula in the homeschool, whose homeschool curricula do we use when each family uses a different curricula?

c. If the standard is 'equivalency', wouldn't that prevent a homeschooler from having a better educational system?

           As you can see, the Connecticut Board of Education concluded that it was not reasonable or practical to determine "equivalent instruction."  This is why it was not addressed in the  C-14 Guidelines other than to suggest that a portfolio review be conducted simply to show that "the subjects listed in 10-184 were taught."

Educational Neglect

It is likewise impossible to define 'educational neglect'. For example:

a. Is educational neglect when a child does not do his schoolwork, or when a child does not learn the material?  If so, then possibly a third of the public school districts and their teachers could be considered to be educationally neglectful because their students do not do their schoolwork and do not learn the material.

b. Is educational neglect when a child does nothing all year? If so, then, again, how many public school districts are educationally neglectful when they utilize "social promotion" and pass students who have done nothing all year to the next grade?

The question is also often raised, "What if a child is in physical danger because a parent leaves that child at home alone?"

The answer is, there already exist a myriad of laws protecting children from truly abusive and neglectful parents.  These laws are more than sufficient to protect children who homeschool as well.

Another oft-asked question is, "How can we tell if these children are being abused if they are not in public school?" The answer to this question is, you can tell if homeschooled children are being abused the same way public school superintendents tell if children in private schools are being abused: Wait for a reasonable, articulable suspicion, seek a warrant based on probable cause, and utilize constitutional and statutory procedures.
Homeschool children are not isolated in a cave.  They participate in a variety of activities in the community where a problem can be detected if it truly exists.

The real problem that exists today is not a problem involving the lack of instruction or abuse in homeschools, it is a problem with public school superintendents or other government officials abusing their authority, overstepping their bounds, misunderstanding, or misapplying the law and suggested procedures.  The blame for this, in the State of Connecticut, at least, can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the former State Commissioner of Education, Theodore Sergi, and the Chief of the Office of Legal Affairs, Mark Stapleton.  These two people were in positions of authority and understood fully the difference between enforceable statutory and administrative regulations and unenforceable "suggested procedures."  Yet, they repeatedly condoned the misinterpretation of the C-14 Guidelines and the actions of superintendents who intimidate parents with threats of truancy or neglect charges when the parents do not "comply" with a "suggested" procedure.  These allegations are the result of years of working on behalf of parents from all across the state who have gone through weeks, sometimes months, of intimidation by these superintendents.   This matter was brought to the attention of Commissioner Sergi and Mark Stapleton on numerous occasions during which they could have clarified for the superintendents the differences between statutory law and suggested procedure, but they chose not to do so. There can be no excuse for such wanton leadership. 


What about federal legislation?

The right of the state's elected government officials to determine the quantity and quality of regulation of homeschooling in the state should not be undermined by unnecessary federal legislation. There are few, if any, "problems" with the existing system of homeschooling in Connecticut that require "fixing" by means of federal legislation. The state legislature is very familiar with all of the issues involved in homeschooling and is more than capable of developing statutes, when and if necessary, to resolve "problems" if those "problems" are shown to exist in the future. For further information, this website has an entire page devoted to the issue of federal legislation.

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