After two years of negotiation, the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) has published new hearing drafts for Rules 12 and 13. This time the NCHEA is convinced that the new NDE hearing draft rules can work well for homeschool families, unlike the NDE hearing drafts from October of 2013. Please follow the scenario below to catch up on what has been happening in the negotiation process.
November 2, 2015 Meeting with NDE
Attending NDE’s meeting to review the NDE Rule 13 Working Draft 10-20-2015 were NCHEA’s Deb Badeer and Dave & Lorraine Lostroh, HSLDA Staff Attorney Peter Kamakawiwoole, Senator Beau McCoy & Legislative Aide Trinity Chappelear, Senator Laura Ebke’s Legislative Aide Brandon Benson, and Home Educators Network (HEN) representatives President Debbie Nordstrom, Kathryn Dillow, and Tricia Croushorn. NDE attendees included NDE Assistant Commissioner & General Counsel Brian Halstead, Staff Attorney Scott Summers, Finance & Organizational Services (FOS) Director Bryce Wilson, Program Associate Beth Bolte, and Office Associate Micki Iverson.
At the meeting, the NCHEA:
- Observed that most of the problems with previous NDE drafts had been fixed.
- Observed that the NDE Rule 13 Working Draft 10-20-2015 is the best NDE draft so far with features that include 1) novel improvements to ease filing exemption notices to NDE by allowing up to 30 days to provide the Section 004 information, and 2) forms that are clearer on who and what is needed.
- Presented the need to clarify that the election for exempt status is effective when the Commissioner receives the election notice (forms, required information, etc.)
- Presented the need to clarify that it is not illegal for repeat homeschool parents to file an exemption notice package after July 15.
- Agreed to provide proposed language to NDE to fix the problems in 3. and 4. above. [Completed 11/3/15]
NDE’s Bryce Wilson and Brian Halstead concluded the 11/2/15 meeting by stating that the NDE would take the input received at the meeting, generate another draft rule using the input, and send it out to meeting participants for review by Thanksgiving. They anticipated that the subsequent change requests could be none, or few and small; hopefully not requiring another meeting.
On November 13, 2015, NDE’s Bryce Wilson sent out a revision, NDE-Rule 13 working draft 11-13-15 based on the inputs presented at the 11/2/15 meeting. This was an improved version that incorporated a fix for 3. above, but not 4. above. The NCHEA responded via email to NDE that item 4. was the only change still not adopted by NDE, but nevertheless, a very important needed change. The NCHEA offered that it would accept any of three new options to correct this remaining problem.
On December 10, 2015, NDE’s Bryce Wilson responded with an email that acknowledged their additional changes to NDE-Rule 13 working draft 11-13-15, based on outside input. One of the acceptable options was adopted into the new NDE RULE 13 HEARING DRAFT 12/14/2015. The NDE website has published the hearing drafts for both Rules 12 and Rule13.
Rule 12 is combined into Rule 13
Please note that Rule 12 has been incorporated into Rule 13 in such a manner as to retain all the critical language for both religious and non-religious homeschooling; parents simply select which one they want on the election forms. As such, Rule 12 will be repealed with the approval of the new Rule 13.
End in Sight
The notice for consecutive rule-making hearings was given by NDE on Friday, 12/18/15, for a January 20, 2016, hearing. A portion of the notice immediately follows:
“NOTICE is hereby given that the Department of Education will hold consecutive rule-making hearings on Wednesday, January 20, 2016, commencing at 9:00 a.m. (CT) at the Nebraska State Office Building, Nebraska Department of Education, 6th floor, State Board Meeting Room, Nebraska State Office Building, 301 Centennial Mall South, Sixth Floor, Lincoln, Nebraska 68509.
These hearings will be held on the revisions to Title 92, Nebraska Administrative Code, Chapter 1 (Rule 1), Rules and Regulations Governing the Audit of Nebraska Public School Districts; Title 92, Nebraska Administrative Code, Chapter 2 (Rule 2), Uniform System of Accounting for Nebraska Public School Districts; Title 92, Nebraska Administrative Code, Chapter 83 (Rule 83), Procedures of the State Committee for the Reorganization of School Districts; Title 92, Nebraska Administrative Code, Chapter 13 (Rule 13), Regulations and Procedures for Exempting Schools for Which Parents Elect Not to Meet Legal Requirements for School Approval and Accreditation for Religious Reasons; and the REPEAL of Title 92, Nebraska Administrative Code, Chapter 12 (Rule 12), Regulations and Procedures for Exempting Schools for Which Parents Elect Not to Meet Legal Requirements for School Approval and Accreditation for Other Than Religious Reasons.” [Red emphasis added]
The remaining approval process consists of:
- The hearing (January 20, 2016)
- Approval by the State Board of Education
- Approval by the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, and
- Approval by Governor Ricketts.
The NDE still intends to have an implementation date in time for the 1016/2017 school year.
The NCHEA intends to testify in favor of the NDE draft hearing rules as published.
A short chronology of new draft Rules 12 and 13:
The Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) has now generated six sets of draft rules:
- October 15, 2013: NDE hearing on Public Hearing Draft HDRule12_2013 and Public Hearing Draft HDRule13_2013.
- January 13, 2014: NDE meeting with homeschool leaders on NDE Rule 12 Working Draft 1-9-2014 . The NCHEA proposed to NDE our own draft Rule 13 that incorporated State v. Thacker.
- January 14, 2015: NDE meeting with homeschool leaders regarding changes to Rules 12 and 13; no new NDE draft rules were presented. The NCHEA proposed to NDE an updated draft Rule 13 that incorporated State v. Thacker.
- May 29, 2015: NDE meeting with homeschool leaders to review NDE Rule 13 working draft 05-15-15.
- November 2, 2015: NDE meeting with homeschool leaders to review NDE Rule 13 Working Draft 10-20-15.
- November 13, 2015: NDE sent out NDE-Rule 13 working draft 11-13-15 via email to leaders for review.
- December 10, 2015: NDE sent out email acknowledging their additional changes to NDE-Rule 13 working draft 11-13-15, based on homeschool leaders input.
- December 14, 2015: NDE posted NDE RULE 12 HEARING DRAFT 12/14/2015 and RULE 13 HEARING DRAFT 12/14/2015 on NDE website.
- January 20, 2016: NDE hearing on hearing drafts for Rules 12 and 13.
The NCHEA has consistently provided input to NDE on each of their draft rules starting before the October 2013 hearing, at subsequent meetings, via email as needed, and also provided our own proposed draft rules and proposed wording changes on many occasions during the process. It has taken over two years, but the NCHEA now believes that the NDE RULE 12 HEARING DRAFT 12/14/2015 and RULE 13 HEARING DRAFT 12/14/2015 provide the needed flexibility that the law and State v. Thacker would require.
The NCHEA thanks HSLDA Staff Attorney Peter Kamakawiwoole, Senator Beau McCoy & Legislative Aide Trinity Chappelear, and Home Educators Network (HEN) representatives President Debbie Nordstrom, Kathryn Dillow, and Tricia Croushorn for their input and efforts to get to this point in the rule-making process.
The NCHEA also thanks NDE participants Assistant Commissioner & General Counsel Brian Halstead, Staff Attorney Scott Summers, Finance & Organizational Services (FOS) Director Bryce Wilson, Program Associate Beth Bolte, and Office Associate Micki Iverson for providing opportunities for homeschool representatives to supply needs, comments and draft input on several occasions, then using NDE review and creativity to generate this 12/14/15 draft Rule 13; a version that provides many valuable improvements that we believe the homeschooling community will embrace.