State board discusses home-schooling requirements

? Several Kansas State Board of Education members on Tuesday said they are hearing reports of children being kept home to babysit younger siblings while their parents claim they are being home schooled.

Board chairman David Dennis of Wichita said the state needs more information on home schools to ensure that children are being taught.

Dennis said there are examples of great home schools in Kansas, but he had heard from public school principals of instances where a parent will keep a teenager home “for day care for the other kids.” Then after a couple of years, the teen returns to public school, several years behind, Dennis said.

Dennis suggested perhaps the board should propose legislation to increase the state reporting requirements for home schoolers.

But board member Ken Willard of Hutchinson said he has heard no complaints about home schooling. “It would be premature to try to push legislation at this point,” Willard said.

Board member Sally Cauble of Liberal said she would rather “engage in a conversation” with home schoolers before deciding what, if any, action the board should take.

The board agreed to discuss the issue more at its next meeting in September.

Kansas doesn’t specifically authorize home schooling, but it does recognize what are called “non-accredited private schools.” Non-accredited schools are not required to employ teachers who are certified by the state, but their courses must be taught by competent instructors, and classes must be held for about the same number of days as public schools.

The only requirement to have a non-accredited private school is to register the name and address of the school and custodian of school records with the State Board of Education.