Friday, June 4, 1999
RSC considers limiting home-schoolers' access to public schools
The Concord School system is considering amending the policyto restrict a home-schooled student's access to courses, athletics, andother student activities offered at the schools. Superintendent of Concord Schools Gene Thayer cited some of his experiences this yearin trying to meet requests from parents of home-schooled students who wanttheir children to attend some classes and activities offered at theschools. Thayer said he has had four to five requests this year fromparents who want to integrate home-schooling with Concord schools'offerings.
Currently, there are 20 students in Concord who are homeschooled out of a student population of approximately 3,000. Thayer saidit can be very difficult to schedule and supervise those studentswho may want to attend classes, particularly at the elementary school level,where the day's activities are often not on an exact schedule.
In a memo provided at the May 25 regional school committee's meeting,the draft policy explains: "During the course of operating the Concord andConcord-Carlisle School Districts, at various times there are shortages ofspace, high pupil-teacher ratios, scheduling difficulties, equipment useissues and other matters which make it necessary for the school districtsto limit the involvement of home-schooled students. Additionally,extracurricular activities are intended for those students who areattending members of the school community..." The draft policy goes on tospecify that only full-time students, in regular attendance at the Concordand Concord-Carlisle School Districts can participate in interscholasticathletic programs, student government and student activity programs. "Home education students may not participate in any academic orco-curricular programs in any of the Concord Public Schools orConcord-Carlisle Regional High School," the draft policy states. According to the document,home-schooled students would be able to use the school library and guidanceresources, with the approval of the principal.
The proposed policy sparked some discussion at the meeting. Concordresident Mary Lee Worthy asked the administration and school committee tocreate an inclusive policy, rather than a restrictive one. Worthy, who hastwo children in the Concord schools who were previously home-schooled, saidshe knows that other towns such as Acton, Lexington, and Harvard allowhome-schooled students to participate at the high school level and, from herunderstanding, it works well.
Member Cindy Nock told the meeting of twohome schooled students who have participated in courses and activities atthe Carlisle Middle School. "In both cases, it has worked out in the bestinterests of all the children," according to Nock. New member HarryCrowther of Carlisle said he believes high-school courses should be open tohome-schooled students because high school is different from the elementarylevel in its structure. Crowther also asked if it was possible forhome-schooled students to participate in the new Virtual High Schoolcourses offered over the Internet at CCHS. AssistantSuperintendent Karen Nerpouni explained that the Internet coursesrequire supervision and students have to meet with a teacher.
Understanding that school resources are limited, Concord member NancyMcJennett expressed her support for some policy to manage home-schoolersrequests. "Think of the teachers and administration. This adds anotherwrinkle, an additional time obligation for them." Concord member LaurenWalters suggested the administration get some facts from otherdistricts. Walters said he would like to see "a more inclusive policy,while still providing protections for the schools."
The RSC decided topostpone making any final decisions on limiting home-schoolers' access toschool offerings until they have looked at information fromother towns.
The regional school committee electedFred Wersan of Concord as chair and Carolyn Musicant of Concord as vice-chair. Crowther, a newly elected member from Carlisle, has a son whoattends CCHS and a daughter in the Carlisle Middle School.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito