Legislation

Current Critical Legislative Issues and Updates

 

Each year, there are a number of legislative issues that require our attention. Always be prepared to take action on an issue of importance to homeschoolers! Read our Legislative Information page to become acquainted with the legislative process in our state.

 

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Be ready to contact current Maine Education and Cultural Affairs Committee Members on Maine legislative issues of importance to homeschoolers. 


Members of the Maine Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs and their contact information are listed here.

 

What to expect at a public hearing 

 

Parking and Directions to the State House

 

2015 Legislation to Watch

 

SUPPORT:

 

LD 311, An Act To Improve Attendance at Public Elementary Schools 

 

This amended bill provides that a person 5 years of age or older who is enrolled in public day school is required to attend during the time it is in regular session. This amendment provides that a person 5 years of age or older and under 7 years of age may withdraw from school at any time within the 45 days after enrollment, and may withdraw from school after 45 days after enrollment after consultation with the school board or its designee. This amendment provides that students who are at least 5 years of age and enrolled in a public day school are subject to the same provisions regarding truancy as students who are at least 7 years of age and have not completed grade 6 who are required to attend a public day school. This amendment clarifies that a person 5 years of age or older and under 7 years of age is not required to meet the alternatives to attendance requirements set forth in the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 20-A, section 5001-A, subsection 3.

 

STATUS: Engrossed in the Senate

 

LD 579 An Act To Allow Teachers To Teach and Students To Learn by Amending the Laws Governing Education Standards

 

This bill repeals the requirements for a system of proficiency-based education 32 standards scheduled to become effective in 2017.

 

STATUS: Work Session - Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at 9:00 AM, Cross Building, Room 202

 

LD 1153 An Act To Restore Local Control of Education to Towns

  

This bill repeals the laws governing proficiency-based graduation requirements. It provides that a school administrative unit may elect to opt out of the so-called Common Core State Standards and statewide student assessments. It provides that a school administrative unit may establish a method of transferring funds to a public charter school that is an alternative to the current method. It makes it optional, instead of mandatory, for a school administrative unit to develop and implement a performance evaluation and professional growth system for educators.

 

STATUS: Public Hearing - Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at 1:00 PM,Cross Building, Room 202

 

LD 1251 An Act To Safeguard Students' Personal and Private Information


This bill establishes data privacy practices for the Department of Education and school administrative units. It prohibits the department and school administrative units from disclosing personally identifiable information about students without the written consent of the parents of children under 18 years of age and the written consent of the students themselves when the students are at least 18 years of age. There are specific exceptions to the prohibitions. The bill also prohibits the collection, entry and maintenance of certain information about students and their families. A contractor, consultant or other party that has entered into a contract or other agreement with the department or a school administrative unit who violates the restrictions is subject to a $5,000 civil penalty per violation and disqualification from future access to education records.

 

STATUS: Work Session - Thursday, April 23, 2015 at 2:00 PM, Cross Building, Room 202

 

LD 1076 An Act To Enact the Vaccine Consumer Protection Program

 

This bill establishes the Vaccine Consumer Protection Program within the Department of Health and Human Services and describes the services provided under the program.

 

STATUS: None

 

OPPOSE:

 

LD 606 An Act To Remove the Philosophical Exemption from the Immunization Requirements for School Students and Employees of Nursery Schools and Health Care Facilities

 

Current law allows exemptions because of a person's philosophical beliefs from immunization requirements for students in elementary and secondary schools and postsecondary schools and employees of nursery schools and health care facilities. This bill removes those exemptions. The bill also directs the Department of Health and Human Services to remove any immunization exemptions because of philosophical beliefs from its rules.

 

STATUS: None

 

LD 471 An Act To Improve Childhood Vaccination Rates in Maine 

 

This bill requires a parent or guardian who is seeking a philosophical exemption to routine childhood vaccination when enrolling a child in school or a licensed day care facility to present written documentation signed by a health care practitioner that the health care practitioner has reviewed with the parent information about the risks and benefits of immunization that is consistent with information published by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

STATUS: None

 


2013 Legislative Victories

 

LD 61, An Act To Amend Standards for Participation in Certain Public School Services by Students Who Are Homeschooled - New College Class Access Law Takes Effect!

 

With the governor’s signature on LD 61, homeschoolers now have access to free or low-cost college courses. There are only five requirements:

 

1. The student’s educational program must meet Maine’s legal requirements for home instruction.

2. The college must have space in the classroom for the student.

3. The student must have completed all course prerequisites.

4. The student must submit such evidence of academic fitness as the college may request.

5. The student must receive the college’s approval of the student’s academic fitness.

 

The new law took effect in the 2013-2014 school year. Only courses taken within the University of Maine System, the Maine Community College System and the Maine Maritime Academy are eligible. The state Department of Education pays 50% of the in-state tuition and the college waives the remainder of the tuition costs. The student may be required to pay other fees and charges.

 

According to Dr. Lawrence M. Rudner’s landmark study, the average homeschool 8th grader scores at about the same level on standardized tests as a 12th grader. So it’s not surprising to see older homeschool students moving strongly into some college-level classes.

 

Our thanks go to Representative Eleanor Espling for sponsoring LD 61, and to Homeschoolers of Maine for working hard to make it become law.

 

Scott A. Woodruff, Esq., Senior Counsel, Home School Legal Defense Association

 

LD 92, Act Relating to Private School Student Participation in Public School Cocurricular, Interscholastic and Extracurricular Activities - Better Access to Public School Activities Passes!

 

Many Maine homeschool families operate within the structure of a small “recognized” private school, that is, a school that follows the Commissioner of Education’s guidelines for being recognized as providing equivalent instruction. (Larger private schools usually seek “approval” rather than “recognition”.)

 

In 2011, the Maine legislature enacted a law giving students in recognized private schools access to public school co-curricular, extracurricular, and interscholastic activities.  But the law gave public school principals the power to reject a student’s access request for virtually any reason. Representative Joyce A. Maker (Calais) wanted to change that.

 

She filed a bill, LD 92, to prevent public school principals from arbitrarily turning down access requests from students enrolled in recognized private schools.  HSLDA and Homeschoolers of Maine worked with Rep. Maker to fine tune the language. 

 

On July 9, 2013, the bill passed both houses of the Maine legislature, and on July 22 the governor signed it. Homeschool students in recognized schools are now entitled to participate in the public school activities listed above.  The new law gives the principal authority to deny access only if the public school does not have the capacity for the student to participate.

 

We appreciate Rep. Maker’s successful work in putting a stop to arbitrary rejection of student requests to participate in public school activities.

 

Scott A. Woodruff, Esq., Senior Counsel, Home School Legal Defense Association

 

For more important information and background on the issues above, please visit HSLDA at http://www.hslda.org/elert/archive/2013/02/20130227114033.asp