Legislative Alert: Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 12
Immediate Action Needed – Home Education Policies
A Quick Review
This past December CHEO alerted you to a Senate bill (SB178) that would substantially change the education policy and governance for all Ohio students. The rule making authority and oversight for all student policies would have been transferred to the executive branch under a director and two deputy directors appointed by the governor. The Department of Education would be renamed the Department of Education and Workforce. The State Board of Education would retain oversight of policies affecting education professionals and district territory transfers.
With your help, this bill was defeated in the 2022 lame duck session – but we were certain that this bill would be re-introduced in the new year. As anticipated, two bills (SB1 and HB12) were introduced in January with identical language and the same focus as last year. As of March 1st, there have been a few amendments to each, but the core concepts remain the same.
In the state of Ohio, there are two populations of students whose core operating policies currently exist only in rule or regulation. These groups are non-chartered nonpublic (08) students and home educated students. Shifting these to a governor’s appointee would have removed their only source of elected representation.
In an attempt to remedy “parental concerns” in last year’s SB178, legislators hastily wrote the 08 regulations into the bill and created a new (simplified) definition of home education. When working on the new bills for this year, the sponsors of SB1 and HB12 made the decision to keep these two provisions intact in the proposed legislation.
Introducing SB 1 and HB 12…
Senate Bill 1
SB 1 was introduced January 11th. Chairman Brenner held 5 hearings and met with interested parties through the end of February. There were 23 proponent witnesses and 54 opponent witnesses. Proponent witnesses advocated generally for greater attention to career-tech programs and better management of the ODE. Opponent witnesses expressed concern with losing public accountability for policies that affect all school-aged children. Essentially changing the decision makers without changing the system of education prescribed in law.
CHEO provided Chairman Brenner with a suggested revision to the definition of home education to provide better clarity. We also submitted more than 30 technical changes to provisions of law that would be necessary to be consistent with the new definition.
Suggestions to improve the home education portion were not included in the final copy of SB 1. In addition to not fixing the language, the Senate Education Committee amended the home education section, at the last minute, with a paragraph that would tie home educators to the state law on habitual truancy!
We made the decision to stay low-key in the Senate process to see how all of this played out. We recognized that SB 1 would pass the Senate because SB 178 had strong support for passage in December. And SB 1 did pass the full Senate on March 1st with a final vote of 26-7.
But there is more of an uphill battle in the House and this is where your voice will be more effective.
Link to SB1: (documents and procedural record) https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/135/sb1/documents
House Bill 12
HB 12 was introduced February 15 by State Reps. Don Jones and Dave Dobos. This bill, as introduced, has the exact language as SB1. There have been 2 hearings to date. The first was sponsor testimony and the second was limited to committee consideration of amendments. Neither of these hearings was open to outside testimony or involvement.
There is a hearing scheduled for Tuesday, March 7th for proponent witness testimony. This will take place at 4pm.
If you would like to subscribe to receive committee notices – here is the link. https://ohiohouse.gov/committees/primary-and-secondary-education/mailing-list-sign-up
If you would like to watch the committee hearing live online – here is the link. https://ohiochannel.org
Link to HB 12: (documents and procedural records) https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/135/hb12
Understanding the Differences…
Difference for home educators with the passage of SB 1 or HB 12
Home education policy currently consists of 6 operational rules that have been in place in the Ohio Administrative Code 3301-34 for 33 years. These rules provide for the excusal of students from Ohio’s compulsory education attendance law for the purpose of home education. They state that a notification of intent must be submitted to the local superintendent annually; and if the notification is complete, the superintendent issues an “excusal letter.”
The proposed RC 3321.042 (new law in the Ohio Revised Code) would put a simplified explanation of home education into statute for the first time. It would be a shift from being “excused” from 3321.04 to being “exempt” from compulsory attendance. There would still be a list of required subjects. The parents would annually notify the superintendent in their district of residence with the notification including the parents’ names and address, the child’s/children’s names, and assurance the child will receive instruction in the required subjects. Instead of issuing an excusal letter, the superintendent would issue a letter of acknowledgement that the notification was received. The expectation would be that the current rules would be rescinded.
Almost all of the technical changes that CHEO submitted to improve this new statute were a list of statute citations changing the concept of “excusal” to “exemption” – to keep all references in state law consistent with the terms of the new 3321.042.
To summarize: SB1 and HB12 are identical in content regarding the exemption instead of excusal.
The only difference is:
• SB 1 currently includes a nonsense requirement that home educators be subject to the state’s truancy law.
• HB 12 does not include this requirement.
Contact your State Representative
Please contact your own State Representative and ask for a NO vote on SB 1 unless the provision subjecting exempted home educated students to the state’s truancy law is removed. It makes no logical sense to subject students who have been exempted from attendance in public schools to the statute for truancy!
If SB 1 is the carrier bill, the revised wording for the core section 3321.042 and technical changes suggested by CHEO and HSLDA also need to be amended into the bill.
If HB 12 is the carrier bill, the clarifying wording for the new section and the technical changes suggested by CHEO and HSLDA need to be amended into the bill.
Please respectfully request ALL of the above suggestions for amendments since we are not sure which bill will move to the House floor for a final vote.
Here is a link to the State’s main legislative page. https://www.legislature.ohio.gov
You will see a section entitled “Find Your Legislator” if you need to see who represents you. Remember there were many new members elected in November and the district boundaries changed a little. So, you may not have the same state representative as you did last year.
Remain Vigilant and Available
As noted above, HB 12 will have a hearing on Tuesday, but it is NOT necessary to attend this meeting. But, please remain flexible on Tuesdays (over the next few weeks) in case we need to request a large number of home educators to attend a future hearing. We will not ask families to attend unless it is necessary. It is more important at the moment to make phone calls and send emails to your state representative and the members of the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee.
Know the Committee Members
The House Education Committee is chaired by Representative Adam Bird and the Vice Chair is Sarah Fowler Arthur.
Here is a link to all the members of this committee.
If you click on each picture, you will see the office phone number. If you wish to email your member or a committee member, the standard email address is their district number followed by ohiohouse.gov. For example: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for staying engaged in this process and working to protect home education in Ohio. If you have any questions regarding this information, feel free to contact our office @ 740-522-2460.
And as always, we are grateful for your continued support of Christian Home Educators of Ohio!
CHEO Legislative Liaison
Disclaimer: This information is provided for your consideration and as a public service.