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County Watch

Fall 2007

Nicholas County — A family homeschooling a kindergartener sought help from the county board of education in finding a portfolio evaluator. The county homeschool coordinator told the parent that she must use an evaluator who taught in the county. Unaware that the law allows any state-licensed teacher to evaluate portfolios, the parent began her search with teachers at the local schools. But despite her efforts and long acquaintance with many of the teachers, she was unable to find an evaluator. Finally one teacher admitted that the county homeschool coordinator had “advised” teachers not to serve as evaluators. Eventually, a retired teacher agreed to conduct the evaluation.

      At the suggestion of a longtime homeschool parent in the county, the parent talked with the county superintendent about her experience. The superintendent apologized for his office’s poor treatment of the homeschool family and promised to rectify the situation. The superintendent also encouraged the parent to “feel free to call or come in” with any other problems.

Summer 2003

Nicholas County HSLDA’s Court Report (March/April 2003) reported that one of their Nicholas County members received a form from the county “asking for the homeschool instructor's Social Security number and proof that the instructor had four years more formal education than his eldest student.” Scott Woodruff, HSLDA attorney for WV, informed the county’s Homeschool Coordinator, Hugh Johnson, that the four-year rule has been waived until June 2003. (These events took place prior to the passage of the law eliminating the four-year rule.) “Mr. Johnson promptly wrote Nicholas County homeschool families, explaining that the four-year requirement is not applicable this year and expressing his hope that the county's mistake did not cause homeschool families any inconvenience.”

The report went on to explain that the “Privacy Act of 1974 prohibits any government agency from requesting a Social Security number unless the citizen is told whether the disclosure is mandatory or voluntary. If it is mandatory, the agency must state the statute or other authority that allows them to make it mandatory. Social Security numbers can be abused if they fall into the wrong hands and it is usually wise to disclose this information only when it is clearly required under law.” The report expressed the hope that Nicholas County would no longer ask for home-schoolers’ Social Security numbers.