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Writing a letter to your confirmation candidate

It seems that one of the biggest events in confirmation preparation in this country is the letters of support to be given to the confirmation candidates during their mandatory retreats.

I have three such letters saved on this blog:

Confirmation letter to my daughterConfirmation letter to my fourth sonConfirmation letter to to my third son
I've asked my children what they remember about the letter they got from me and their dad, and also what they remembered about the letters they received. 
The answer was not much, or at least nothing specific. In general they were happy to have gotten a bag full of letters and there was a sense of feeling loved and supported. I guess that's the main thing - for them to have a sense that this is an important step in their spiritual growth, and that people they know, love and respect have taken the time out of their lives to let them know that! So here are some tips on procuring and writing letters for young confirmation candidates. Start thinkin…

Record Keeping for Diploma Fairness - Homeschooling High School in Ohio

Adobe Spark (15)

My oldest son, Calvin, went to EMT and paramedic training at a local hospital. On the application, there was a section that wanted to know the name of his "accredited" high school. He had graduated from a local digital charter school which had only been open for a few years, so I was a little concerned about whether or not that would count.  It apparently did because he was accepted to the school and earned his paramedic credentials. He is now married and gainfully employed in Charlotte, NC.

That made me wonder about the diploma I issued for my second son, who graduated from our homeschool in 2011. Would he face a problem if he applied to college, or sought employment opportunities?   So far he has not had any problems getting a job with his homeschool issued diploma and he has not been asked to get a GED. Luckily he has also been fully employed for the past seven years. But could that be a problem for him in the future?

Diploma Fairness for Homeschooling High School in Ohio

I was right to wonder.  In 2014 a homeschool graduate, with some completed college courses and relevant work experience found a job offer rescinded because his high school diploma was from his homeschool. In 2013 an institute of higher learning told a qualified homeschooled student to come back with a GED. Another student who had already been accepted at an institution was told to produce a GED or leave right in the middle of a semester!

Sam's Graduation Mass 2011 012

Luckily, in June of 2015, Ohio passed the Diploma Fairness Statute. (Ohio Revised Code 3313.6110)

A person who has completed the final year of instruction at home as authorized under section 3321.04 of the Revised Code and has successfully fulfilled the high school curriculum applicable to that person may be granted a high school diploma by the person's parent, guardian or other person having charge or care of a child  as defined in Division 11 of section 3321.01 of the Revised Code.

That law was amended in 2016 Senate Bill 3 Parent- issued diplomas. 

This bill includes a revision to the diploma fairness law. It removes the option of having the local superintendent sign a parent-issued diploma. Parent-issued diplomas may simply be accompanied by the excuse letter for the final year of home instruction. It also adds the option that a homeschooling parent may assign the state seal of biliteracy to the student's diploma in the same manner as school districts and chartered nonpublic schools.

What does this mean to the average homeschool graduate?

Quite simply it means hang on to the official letter of excused issued by the district superintended for the student's FINAL YEAR of home schooling.  That excusal letter is always important, but it is vitally important the senior year since by law it validates the diploma.

Record Keeping for Diploma Fairness:
So to be sure that my child will be able to enter into any educational opportunities s/he wants to after high school, and to assure my child is legally employable I will do the following: 

  • Make a copy of it for my student's portfolio
  • Keep the original with important papers in a lock box.  
  • Scan it into the computer for digital back up. 

This means that for the purposes of employment, or any other situation that requires proof of this requirement, a diploma granted with either of these top options is considered proof of completion of a high school education.

What if your student is over 18 years of age but not a graduate?

 The student doesn't need an excuse letter by law because he/she is over the age of compulsory education. But you also want the final letter to go with the diploma. Should you notify or not?

Isadora's senior pictures and sign

The Homeschool Legal Defense Association says this:

HSLDA believes that a parent-issued diploma and transcript should be sufficient to demonstrate that a child has completed a secondary education. However, even if your child is beyond compulsory school attendance age, there may be situations where you would want to continue to follow the requirements of a home education option recognized under Ohio law until your child graduates from high school (filing a home education notice, keeping attendance and other records, etc.). These records may be requested in some situations, such as obtaining a driver's license if your child is a minor, enlisting in the m i l i t a r y , applying to colleges, or demonstrating eligibility for Social Security b e n e f i t s . If you are a member of HSLDA and would like additional details, please contact us.

I also heard from Attorney Jill from HSLDA  July 20, 2017, on this issue.  She told me that with homeschooling high school in Ohio after the age of 18,  you do not have to send in a notification. HSLDA says that the final letter would mean the final letter under the compulsory age requirement.  However, some families will choose to send in a notification after age 18 so that they have that letter for the final year of high school, and that's fine! If the parents are comfortable with that, they can go ahead.

As in all things, do your own research and make decisions based on what is best for your family. DO NOT get bullied into doing things you feel uncomfortable with by "letter-of-the-statute-only" zealots. The local school district shouldn't bully you either. If you decide to keep notifying after age 18 you are NOT dishonoring the sacrifice of the homeschoolers from generations past by doing what is comfortable for you.  Those homeschoolers fought for educational freedom - it would be dishonoring them not to use yours.

Homeschooling through high school is quite an accomplishment! Be proud of yourself and your graduate!

Izzy's graduation Party