OVA officials testify in favor of nixing state mandate for homeschoolers

Oxford Virtual Academy (OVA) Principal Janet Schell and Homeschool Director Lisa Sullivan have joined State Rep. John Reilly (R-Oakland Twp.) in his fight to permanently exempt homeschooling families from being required to submit Educational Development Plans (EDP).

Educational Development Plans are annual academic and career evaluations, which are mandated by the Michigan Department of Education for all public school students starting in the seventh grade.

In an effort to exempt homeschooling families from a planned requirement that students taking more than two courses at a virtual academy submit these reports, Reilly introduced House Bill 4805 in June 2017, which would permanently exclude them from this requirement, if passed.

According to the bill’s language, “a child who is educated at the child’s home by his or her parent or legal guardian and is exempt from the requirement to attend public school under section 1561 is not required to develop, review, or revise an educational development plan described in section 1278B.”

Schell and Sullivan voiced their support for Reilly’s legislation during testimony given before the House Education Reform Committee on September 28.

In the spring of 2017, OVA had a total headcount of 1,017 students, according to Schell. Of that number, 756 were homeschooled students.

In a recent interview with this reporter, Schell said a requirement for homeschooling families to submit EDPs would be “an infringement on the privacy” of homeschooling families and that she believes more oversight could create an unnecessary burden for them.

Michigan is currently one of 11 states that does not require homeschooling parents to register with the state or have any contact with officials, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).

“Homeschoolers do not have to report their courses to the state of Michigan. That’s not required,” Schell said. “(Parents are) teaching their kids the essential classes… so why would a homeschooled student have to submit a plan in writing to the district that speaks to their graduation or career pathway goals?”

Schell also expressed worry that the expansion of the EDP could potentially end many families’ partnership with the virtual academy or that it could cause “undue hardship” on district administrators, who would be required to handle EDP reporting.

“We want to maintain a good relationship with the homeschooling community,” Schell added.

Sullivan could not be reached for further comment.

The committee did not vote on House Bill 4805 and it remains under consideration.


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