After months of discussions with the Maine Department of Education, we were hoping for better results. The new details and added requests on the state form may seem insignificant at first, but there is much more at stake. Preserving homeschool freedoms requires daily vigilance. We must not fall prey to a pattern of continuous revisions beyond the law, whenever the state sees fit. Currently, Maine is a state with a moderate level of homeschool regulation. Many states are less regulated (or even not regulated). Maine could easily move into the category of high regulation (as most states in the Northeast) if we are not extremely careful. The blessings of our precious homeschool freedoms here in Maine will gradually be lost over time if we give in little by little.
Read Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) messages to its members below, and stand firm! Please contact HOME if you have questions, concerns, or need to report a school district that is insisting on use of the DOE forms.
From HSLDA Attorney Scott Woodruff:
June 14, 2019
I urge Maine families to NOT use the state's forms either for their initial homeschool paperwork or their subsequent year letter and assessment submission. [The request to submit duplicate information in the subsequent year letter is redundant.]
Here are some myths, questions, and misunderstandings that are being circulated:
"The laws have changed, so now you need to use this form."
—Not true! No law has changed in this regard. As has been true for decades, you are not required to use any form at all—much less a form devised by the state Department of Education. HSLDA provides lawful forms to our members [as does HOME].
"I will use the state's form because I want to submit to the authorities as Romans 13 commands."
—Romans 13:7 says, "give everyone what you owe him." It does not say give everyone what they ASK for! Yes, give the authority what you owe them. What you owe them is determined by the laws that are enacted by the legislature. Bureaucrats have no authority to create a law by speaking it. While every parent should do what they believe is right, there is no scriptural mandate to submit to what an official says if it is out of line with the law of the land.
"The homeschool notification process is being updated."
—Let me translate this. First, no law has changed. All that has changed is that the Department of Education has created a way to file paperwork using an online process. This process does not line up with state law.
"We won't accept the HSLDA form or the HOME form. You need to use the online process."
—Nonsense. It doesn't matter if the school or the state "accepts" your paperwork. They have no authority to accept or reject it! Once you have submitted paperwork that complies with state law, your job is done. The local and state folks can do what they want with the papers. I recommend that you transmit your paperwork in a way that gives you evidence that you sent it (postal receipt, fax confirmation, email confirmation, signature to confirm hand delivery). Keep this evidence in your permanent records.
"Homeschool registration change: Did you know that the Maine Department of Education (DOE) now requires you to register online and upload your child's previous year's assessments? Forms are no longer mailed to the Maine DOE and your local school district."
—Nonsense. No law has changed. Many jurisdictions have passed anti-bullying laws. Why do they think it's OK to bully homeschool moms and dads?
"Why won't you cooperate? It will make our lives easier if you just use the online process."
—If administrative officials want to ease their jobs a bit, they can scan your paperwork, store it safely, then discard the originals. Very simple. Homeschoolers pay thousands of dollars in taxes for services we don't use. Don't try to guilt us into thinking that it's our fault that an entry-level administrator must spend 30 seconds twice a year scanning and electronically storing our paperwork!
"Yikes! The school sent back the test results I submitted because I didn't use the online process! What do I do now?"
—If you have something in your file to confirm that you sent it (postal receipt, fax confirmation, email confirmation, signature to confirm hand delivery), the law requires nothing more. They can send it back to you or send it to the moon. It doesn't matter. You have done all the law requires you to do. If you have no proof that you sent it, simply send it again and keep the proof that you sent it. Don't allow yourself to be bullied!
Our discussions with the Department did not yield the results for which we had hoped.
There is power in unity! Well-intending homeschool families who use the state forms are lending credibility to the department's out-of-line actions. That will only encourage them to keep it up. As an unintended consequence, it will put pressure on families who want to provide what they owe, but not more than they owe.
We have not had a battle for freedom in a number of years in Maine. We didn't ask for this one, but here it is. I know Maine homeschool families will stand tall!
HSLDA and Homeschoolers of Maine are united on this.