An Ohio public school superintendent is insisting that he will continue to question homeschool parents after being advised by a legal group to restrict his inquiries to within what the law allows.
After being requested by Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) attorneys to limit his oversight of homeschooling students to what the law permits, Licking Valley Local School District Superintendent David Hile reportedly did not appreciate that his authority was being checked.
“It is my responsibility under the law to ensure that children in my district are receiving an adequate education [and] I take that responsibility very seriously, whether those children are in our schools or homeschooled,” Hile argued in a heated written response to HSLDA. “I will continue to question parents as I see fit.”
Setting the record straight
The issue at hand was instigated by Hile’s allegedly “excessive inquisitiveness” concerning the test score of a homeschool student.
“The student had scored in the 30th percentile on a standardized test taken to fulfill end-of-year assessment requirement,” HSLDA reports. “Hile felt the score was too low and asked to see the student’s subtest scores.”
Once the homeschool mother sought legal assistance to resolve the issue before it escalated any further, HSLDA Staff Attorney Mike Donnelly informed Hile in a letter that his demand for subtest scores went above and beyond what he was allowed to ask for by law. The legal expert cited the Ohio Administrative Code to make his case.
“Any child that has a composite score at or above the 25th percentile shall be deemed to be performing at a level of reasonable proficiency,” the code reads.
Even though the matter was quickly resolved, Hile was noticeably upset by having his power questioned, leading him to fire off what HSLDA attorneys considered a “bristling reply” to the legal clarification with which they provided him.
“His response further demonstrated a lack of understanding regarding how to interpret a nationally norm-referenced assessment, as well as a disconcerting attitude with respect to who is responsible for the education of the child,” the nonprofit legal group argued. “Hile wrote that he considered a child who scored in the 30th percentile on a standardized test ‘2–3 years below grade level (as 50th percentile is on grade level on NNRA).’”
HSLDA went on to explain that someone in Hile’s high position should be more knowledgeable about interpreting student assessments.
“As a professional educator, Hile should know percentile scores on a norm-referenced assessment that is standardized nationally – as required by Ohio regulations – reflect how many students performed at or above that level … not what grade level the child is,” the Christian attorneys pointed out. “Perhaps Hile is thinking of the state public tests, which are criterion-referenced, rather than nationally normed standardized achievement tests, and which simply show how a child scores compared to others the same test. A score of the 30th percentile simply means that 30 percent of the students scored below a particular result on that test.”
Donnelly contends that parents should not have to deal with authoritative and unprofessional school officials such as Hile, whose reaction to his concise and informative letter was described as both hostile and unnecessary.
“Hile’s response was an over-the-top and overbearing reaction to a simple point of clarification,” Donnelly contended. “His attitude reflects an arrogance that implies homeschoolers are not up to the task of educating their children. The facts show that the reverse is true.”