A bill set to bring about major changes to homeschool statute will become law on July 1.
On a 41-27 vote, the House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 177, which makes significant changes to homeschool laws, and Gov. Kristi Noem, surrounded by supporters of the proposal, signed it into law.
“Our responsibility as lawmakers is to give the people of South Dakota choices for education,” Rep. Reimers told fellow Representatives.
While the bill does not add an additional choice in education as homeschool education already existed in state law as an option for parents, it does include the following changes:
- Removes all decision making ability of public school boards by allowing homeschool students to participate in all extracurricular activities without local district oversight;
- Creates inequities between public school students and homeschool students as all testing requirements and instruction oversight are removed;
- Permits a homeschool student to be eligible for activities without meeting local academic standards;
- Only requires a parent or guardian to declare the homeschool student eligible to participate in activities;
- Circumvents the local public school district in the homeschool application process; and
- Poses potential safety concerns for a student no longer connected to a public school district as there is no accountability for parents or guardians.
“This bill in its current form lacks accountability,” Rep. Erin Healy said during the debate on the floor. Rep. Healy brough one of three amendments – along with Rep. Will Mortenson and Rep. Jess Olson – to SB 177.
Rep. Reimers characterized the legitimate amendments as a “ploy” and their introduction considered nothing more than “games.”
The amendments defeated on the House floor, included:
- Provided .1 FTE allocation to the state funding formula for public schools for each homeschool student participating in an activity;
- Reinstated the testing requirement currently in state statute for fourth, eighth and eleventh grade students;
- Required anyone instructing homeschool students hold a high school degree or higher equivalency;
Rep. Fred Deutsch claimed the “love” of a parent will make them a good teacher.
Rep. Linda Duba expressed concern that the state “will lose sight of” children pulled out of public schools.
“We have to remember those children that are being pulled out of school under the guise of homeschool and are being lost,” Rep. Duba said. “They will note be allowed to come back.”