LINCOLN — Notch a win for the home team — home schoolers, that is.
Nebraska Department of Education officials said Thursday they are putting on hold their effort to impose new rules on home-schooling parents, at least temporarily.
Russ Inbody, the department's administrator of finance and organizational services, said he intends to reach out to groups representing home schoolers for their recommendation on how to proceed.
“Probably should have done that in the first place,” Inbody told members of the Nebraska Board of Education.
Board President Patricia Timm said she was pleased with the approach. Board member John Sieler called the delay “a good step.”
The proposed rule changes aim to clarify how and when parents should inform the department about their decision to home-school.
State officials said the changes would help local school officials and law enforcement officers know that home-schooled children were not violating Nebraska's beefed-up truancy laws.
Home schoolers turned out in force at Oct. 15 hearings on the proposed rules, denouncing them as government intrusion on their right to school as they wish and as interference in religion.
Thirty people testified against the rules. The department received more than 150 pages of written testimony and correspondence.
The proposed rules were prompted by a truancy case against a Farnam, Neb., couple that went all the way to the Nebraska Supreme Court.
Eric Thacker and Gail Morgan-Thacker were convicted of violating Nebraska's compulsory education law in 2011 because they refused to enroll their children in public school while filing paperwork to set up a home school.
The high court ruled in the Thackers' favor at the end of May.
The proposed rules would move up the deadline for parents to file paperwork notifying the state their children will be taught at home.
Current regulations require parents to file the notification 30 days before a home school starts operating and by July 15 each following year.
As proposed, the deadline would move to July 1 for most home-school parents. People moving to the state after that date would have to file when they become Nebraska residents.
People making the decision midyear to start home-schooling would have to file “as soon as practicable.” Those parents could not pull their children out of public or private school before getting state acknowledgment of their home-school status.