State officials consider rules changes for home schooling

DES MOINES — State officials may get rid of a limit for how long a student who’s being home schooled, but monitored by a licensed teacher, may also attend classes in a public school district. It’s called “dual enrollment” under “competent private instruction.” Current state rules say those students may attend their local public district for 75% of the school day.

Iowa Department of Education legal counsel Thomas Mayes says comments made at a public hearing have persuaded the agency to at least think about changes. “It was an individual family talking about their individual situation,” Mayes said. “…Because they are doing competent private instruction, they are subject to the 75% cap. A family that does independent private instruction is subject to no cap at all and the comment was made: ‘Why does a family that is going through and has some ties to the school district have less access than a family that is, air quotes, ‘off the grid?'”

Home schooling parents in Iowa have the option of being independent, with no oversight by licensed educators. Home school parents who do meet with a licensed teacher regularly and dual enroll their child in a public school are also asking for access to teacher’s guides. Under current rules, they are entitled to the same textbooks being used in public school classes. Mayes says there are concerns about test security and licensing agreements with publishers.  “We would like to accommodate as much as possible, but still understand that shool districts when they adopt textbooks they have responsibilities to the publisher they must follow,” Mayes says. “They own the physical copy of the book, but they do not own the intellectual property.”

According to Mayes, agency staff considering these issues have the power to make changes through the state’s administrative rules process.