Friday, June 16, 2006

Beware of NEW State Education Form!

TELEPHONE CALLS STARTED POURING IN!!!

On June 9, 2006, the Ohio Department of Education sent out its annual letter to church schools which are non-chartered and non-tax supported. On June 14, telephone calls started pouring into the LLM office from church schools all over the state -- Bucyrus, Toledo, Dayton, and Conneaut. The state's annual letter raised two significant concerns. But first, a little background.

ANNUAL REPORTING REQUIRED

All church schools in Ohio are subject to the state Minimum Standards set forth in the Ohio Administrative Code, Rule 3301-35-08.
The reporting information contained at the top of the new state form, "Non-Chartered, Non-Tax Supported School Annual Certification Report," is correct, as follows:

"Rule 3301-35-08 of the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) requires that a school, which is not chartered or seeking a charter from the State Board of Education because of truly held religious beliefs, shall annually certify in a report to the parents of the pupils that the school meets Ohio minimum standards for non-chartered, non-tax supported schools cited in paragraphs (A) to (H) of this rule. A copy of said report shall be filed with the Department of Education on or before the thirtieth of September of each year."

For many years, LLM has recommended (1) that such church schools send the state an annual letter which provides only the information required in the Minimum Standards (see sample below) and (2) that such church schools not use any form supplied by the state since such form might ask for more information than is required by the Minimum Standards. Alas, such advice is needed again.

BEWARE OF STATE EDUCATON FORM!!! IT IS NOT MANDATORY!

The form which the state submitted this year is especially egregious with respect to two matters:
1. "Please list or attach the truly held religous beliefs." The Minimum Standards do not require such a statement. Do not provide it.
2. Boxes asked for "Administrator/Teacher Name, Degree, and Institution Granting Degree." The Minimum Standards do not require church schools to submit such information.
Don't use the state form. IT IS NOT MANDATORY!

SUGGESTED LETTER

The following letter is suggested. If you have any questions, please call LLM Attorney Hamilton at 440-964-0236.

The Church School’s Suggested Annual Report to Parents,
with a copy to the Ohio Department of Education


To: The Parents of Students attending ***************** School

From: **************************, Administrator
(Name and Address of School)

Re: Annual Report to Parents

Date: (Please include date letter is sent)


Our school, which is not chartered or seeking a charter from the State Board of Education because of truly held religious beliefs, is reporting to you that we meet all standards required by the state for operating a non-chartered, non-tax supported school. These rules are as follows:

(A) School year. The school shall be open for instruction with pupils in attendance for not less than one hundred eighty-two days each school year according to section 3313.48 of the Revised Code.

(B) School day. The school day for pupils in grades one through twelve shall be no less than five hours exclusive of the noon recess according to section 3313.48 of the Revised Code.

(C) Pupil attendance. Pupil attendance shall be reported to facilitate administration of the laws relating to compulsory education and employment of minors. Parents shall be responsible for reporting their child’s school enrollment or withdrawal. An individual in charge of the non-chartered, non-tax supported school may, as a matter of convenience, provide the report for the parent.

(1) The attendance report shall include the name, age, and place of residence of each pupil below eighteen years of age.

(2) The report shall be made to the treasurer of the board of education of the city, exempted village, or local school district in which the pupil resides.

(3) The report shall be made within the first two weeks of the beginning of each school year. In the case of pupil withdrawal or entrance during the school years, notice shall be given to the treasurer of the appropriate board(s) of education. Such notice shall be given within the first week of the next school month.

(D) Teacher and administrator qualifications. Teachers and administrators shall have received a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent thereof from a recognized college or university.

OR ALTERNATIVELY

(D) Teacher and administrator qualifications. The teachers are qualified to teach in their respective areas.

(E) Courses of study. Each non-chartered, non-tax supported school shall have courses of study for the following subjects:

(1) Language arts;
(2) Geography, the history of the United States and Ohio, and national, state, and local government;
(3) Mathematics;
(4) Science;
(5) Health;
(6) Physical education;
(7) The fine arts, including music;
(8) First aid, safety, and fire prevention;
(9) Other subjects as prescribed by the non-chartered, non-tax supported school.

(F) Pupil promotion. Each non-chartered, non-tax supported school shall follow regular procedures for promotion from grade to grade of pupils who have met the school’s educational requirements.

(G) Pupil health and safety. Each non-chartered, non-tax supported school shall comply with state and local health, fire, and safety laws.

(H) Pupils attending a non-chartered, non-tax supported school are not entitled to pupil transportation as provided pursuant to section 3327.01 of the Revised Code, and pupils attending a non-chartered, non-tax supported school are not entitled to auxiliary services as provided pursuant to section 3317.06 of the Revised Code.

A non-chartered, non-tax supported school is not entitled to nonpublic administrative cost reimbursement provided pursuant to section 3317.063 of the Revised Code.

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