Diploma Fairness…

Effective immediately – Ohio law now requires that diplomas issued to home educated graduates and -08 graduates will satisfy any legal requirement to show proof of completion of the student’s high school education under the regulations that govern these two educational options!

Newly enacted Ohio Revised Code 3313.6110 will put an end to the growing pattern of unnecessary discrimination against students who have obeyed state law in Ohio.

These students have followed a lawful option to complete their K-12 education experience (in whole or in part) in Ohio. Some students are long-time Ohio residents and some students move into Ohio and legally complete the latter portion of their education here. Either way, when they graduate they are increasingly being told that they may not have access to jobs, job promotions, state colleges/universities, etc. because they do not possess a “state-certified” diploma. CHEO has been receiving numerous calls and emails from concerned parents/individuals for the last couple of years.

One recent email was from a US Army veteran. He had completed his home education under Ohio regulations, joined the military and served in Afghanistan for 8 years. He returned home and sought to take classes at an Ohio community college but was refused access without first getting a GED…regardless of the fact that he had already successfully completed online courses with Liberty University in Virginia. It is very sad that he spent 8 years serving our nation and protecting our liberties and is then denied access unless he categorizes himself as a high school drop out and submits to getting the GED.

Some of the other calls that we have received have been from individuals who have received college/university degrees and are now suddenly being denied access to new opportunities. Some have been in the workforce for years and are now being told they cannot be employed for new positions without an accredited diploma from high school.

Into the weeds…

The text of the new section of law is brief and needed to be crafted in a way that would protect graduates from needless discrimination retroactively as well as graduates in the years to come. The language will not provide these graduates with any special privileges. They will still need to meet the same academic and/or skill thresholds that other students need to meet to be accepted by a college/university and/or to be hired.

Full text available here:

Each portion of RC 3313.6110 was included for specific reasons:

Paragraphs A and C of 3313.6110 will permit these students to be issued diplomas by the entities responsible for educating them. As stand alone paragraphs these will fix the problem for grads retroactively as well as grads moving forward.

Paragraphs D and E will require these diplomas to fulfill any legal requirement to show proof of high school completion.
Nothing in this section confers special advantages to these graduates. Individuals would still need to meet the same requirements for college entry or employment as any other candidate (i.e. remediation free test scores, employment skill criteria). This language simply removes the discriminatory barrier based on the type of education they freely selected under Ohio law.

Paragraph B was a concept added in later drafts with the perspective that some parents may want a diploma signed by the local superintendent to confirm they had been in compliance with the home education regulations. We requested that a second option be provided for parents who would prefer to use what the regulations already require to show compliance – the letter from the local superintendent specifying that the student is excused from the compulsory attendance statute for the purpose of home education. This letter is only granted when the parent has submitted everything required by the state regulations as proof of compliance. The reason (B)(2) asks for the letter for the final year of instruction is to provide a fair requirement for families who may have moved into the state midway into the high school years or a family who lawfully elected to home educated for the last portion of the high school experience.

There is also a specific reason that the requirement of paragraph B will take effect with the diplomas issued after July 1, 2015. The complaints that we have seen and have shared with legislators are from graduates who completed their education years ago. Some of these individuals no longer have a record of the notification letter from the local superintendent because there was no requirement at the time they graduated. So this section will take effect for graduates in the years ahead and they will know to retain that particular document.

In short…

Home educated or 08 school graduates can expect to have their diplomas be legally recognized when asked to provide it by post-secondary institutions or employers.
Home educated graduates after July 1, 2015 will also need to provide a copy of the letter from the superintendent excusing the student from compulsory attendance for the final year of instruction (if a copy of the letter is requested by the college or employer) in addition to the diploma.

A little background information for you…

CHEO worked closely with Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) to draft language that was presented to members of the Ohio House and Ohio Senate in the process of the budget deliberations. Conversations with legislators regarding this policy in HB64 began in February. After meeting with members of both chambers and working through multiple drafts of the language, we were able to achieve the inclusion of the text in the Omnibus Amendment to HB64 in the final step of the Senate deliberations.

We are very grateful for the assistance of all the legislators who helped to resolve this issue of discrimination against home educated graduates.

We are forever indebted to Mike Donnelly, Esq. from HSLDA for his support in helping to craft the wording and for his counsel along the way. HSLDA’s service to Ohio families is absolutely indispensable.

Melanie Elsey, CHEO’s legislative liaison, spent countless hours faithfully working to oversee this legislation. CHEO is honored to have her on staff and is grateful for her service to home educators in Ohio. If you are not a member of CHEO, we humbly ask that you would consider becoming a member today. Your financial support enables us to continue the work of protecting and encouraging home educating families all year. We are your state organization…always here for you!

With thanks to God,
The Board of CHEO

Response from HSLDA: Click Here

 

Update 2017: 

Effective March 16, 2017 the following changes were made to Ohio’s diploma fairness law for home educating graduates with the passage of SB3:

The option for obtaining the signature of the local superintendent was removed, which will strengthen the intention of the law that a diploma issued by the parent, along with the letter already required to be issued by the superintendent at the time of notification, is sufficient to satisfy any legal requirement to have a diploma.

In addition, this summer the Ohio State Board of Education approved a regulation to provide for the issuance of a State Seal of Biliteracy for eligible high school students to be affixed to his/her high school transcript. This voluntary program was codified into state law with the passage of SB 3 in the same section of code that governs the home education diploma. The regulation simply works out the details to provide for the issuance of the seals.

The rule language clarifies that home educated students may also participate if the criteria is met. The student must earn a remediation-free score on the English and reading portions on one of the state recognized college entrance exams (e.g. ACT), or several other options outlined in the approved rule. (including a high level of proficiency in use of the American Sign Language).

Paragraph (D) of the rule provides specifically for the voluntary participation of home educated students. The Ohio Department of Education is responsible for preparing and delivering the seal