Dan Forest says random home school inspections need to stop

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest reacted to news that the Division of Non-Public Education planned to randomly inspect home schools this month for the first time in more than 20 years by calling on home school parents to refuse entry to government officials.

David Mills, the recently-promoted director of the Division of Non-Public Education, told NC Policy Watch last week that for the first time in 22 years he planned to randomly choose five home schools to inspect. He also planned to give them advanced notice of his site visits, spend only 30 minutes with them and allow the home schoolers to propose alternative meeting times if his suggestions were inconvenient.

In a news release sent out late this afternoon, Forest said that the home school inspections would be intrusive and unnecessary, and that families had the right to refuse warrantless entry to government officials under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

During the past 22 years DNPE has conducted record reviews of home schools in church basements, Mills told NC Policy Watch. Upon hearing negative feedback from the homeschool community with regard to his upcoming random home school inspections, Mills sent a letter sometime today to North Carolinians for Home Education (NCHE) indicating that he would cease any further inspections after the five he has already coordinated take place and return to the record review system of making sure home schools comply with state law.

It’s not clear whether or not Mills’ communication to NCHE was a direct result of Forest’s call for the home school inspections to stop. Ultimately DNPE and Forest issued a joint statement this evening indicating that no home school inspections would take place at all.


Director of Non-Public Education to conduct home school site visits for first time in 22 years

David Mills, the recently-promoted director of the Division of Non-Public Education, will conduct site visits of five home schools this week–the first site visits to take place in more than 20 years.

Mills randomly selected the five home schools and also sent letters informing them that he will spend 30 minutes with them at their home, giving them a specific date and time and offering to allow the home school educators to suggest alternative dates and times that work better for them, according to North Carolinians for Home Education.

For the past two decades, Mills’ office has conducted what he called “record reviews” of home schools in church basements across the state, in addition to allowing home schoolers to send in their compliance paperwork. “But this month I’ll be conducting the first home visits in 22 years,” Mills told NC Policy Watch in an interview last week.

Mills said that home schools have grown from just a few hundred back in the 1970s to now more than 57,000 homeschools that the state has on record today. “We couldn’t go out and see 57,000 home schools each year,” said Mills. But having several home school educators come to church basements to present their immunization, attendance and standardized test records made it possible to provide some oversight, Mills said.

NCHE’s website says that if home schools are not comfortable with home visits, they are entitled to refuse the visit under the 4th Amendment, as long as they present the records to DNPE outside of the home.


Cursive writing bill passes Senate education committee

Perhaps having heard the buzz this morning about the link between the Back to Basics bill and the for-profit handwriting instruction company Zaner Bloser, Sen. Allran decided to move the cursive writing legislation through the Senate Education Committee this morning without any further discussion, saying that everyone had already heard enough on the bill.

The bill would mandate cursive writing instruction and memorization of multiplication tables for elementary school students. The legislation passed through committee without any objections.

Home schoolers supporting SB 189, which would change the definition of home schools to include the option of instructional delivery via online technologies, got a win when that bill passed through committee. The change in law could open the door for online virtual schools to move their products into the home schooling market. There is another bill moving through the assembly now that would provide income tax credits to those who home school their children.

Sen. Tillman’s bill to reduce public school reporting requirements passed through committee with one notable change. As previously reported, the bill would have repealed the law mandating personal education plans (PEPs) for at-risk students. In the end, Tillman decided to keep PEPs, as was reflected in the Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS) that was handed out before the committee today.