Two new laws taking effect this summer will reduce state and local oversight of home-schooled students.

While the laws should make life easier for families, there is concern over monitoring home-schooled students' progress.

House bills 545 and 1571, adopted by the Legislature this spring, eliminate some state requirements.

HB 1571, sponsored by Rep. J.R. Hoell, R-Dunbarton, took effect in June.

Parents of home-schooled children no longer have to send annual student evaluations or portfolios to their school district.

These would still be required, but could be kept by the parents.

The district also would have no authority in the termination of a home education program if it's believed to be inadequate.

HB 545 no longer requires the parents of home-schooled students to register their children with the local district.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. David Bates, R-Windham, whose three sons are home-schooled by his wife. It takes effect Aug. 12.

Bates, who also supported HB 1571, said the laws were needed to make sure government doesn't interfere with parents' rights to educate their own children.

"I am happy that some relief was brought to home-school (families)," he said.

"Once parents accept that responsibility, I don't think that states should add to the burden. We shouldn't be burdened with some of these ridiculous requests."

Parents can decide what's best for their children, he said.

They should not have to register their home-schooled children each year, he said.

"It's silly for a family to register with the Department of Education or a school district every year," he said.

But Salem Superintendent of Schools Michael Delahanty said he's concerned about the two new laws.

They both reduce a school district's responsibility to monitor students' progress, even if they do not attend public school.

"It is concerning to me," Delahanty said. "In previous years, we would have at least some evaluation of progress. Now, we really don't have an opportunity to have a discussion."

Delahanty said most parents of home-schooled students do a good job of educating their children.

But other parents withdraw their children from public schools out of spite and are not qualified to educate a student.

Salem has nine home-schooled students, he said.

The Timberlane Regional School District has 73 home-schooled students and the Hampstead School District has 29, according to Scott Strainge, director of secondary education for School Administrative Unit 55.

He said the new laws are indicative of a trend over the last five years, where the authority of local school districts has been reduced.

Although parents of home-schooled students are no longer required to report their children's progress, Strainge said he hopes they will still keep districts updated.

"We are here to support and work with the families in every shape and form," Strainge said.

"I would still encourage parents to keep a strong portfolio."

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