Only hours after officials with the Home School Legal Defense Association posted a report about their “protracted fight” with a state agency in Ohio over officials’ refusal to consider a qualified applicant for a job because he was homeschooled, the battle is over.
The HSLDA reported on Tuesday that “after HSLDSA published an article about the case … we learned that Kim Rowe, chief of personnel, and Amy Parmi, chief legal counsel to the Ohio Department of Corrections, have issued a policy that it will treat all homeschool diplomas equally as required by law, effective immediately.”
The fight had been taken to the state over the case involving Gabriel Sage, who is a homeschool graduate, has lengthy experience and clearly was qualified for a state corrections job for which he applied.
However, the state had said it would only consider candidates with homeschool diplomas if those documents were dated after July 2015, as required by a new state law. The HSLDA had argued that that was a misinterpretation of the state law, signed by Gov. John Kasich, and even though the law took effect in 2015, it did not allow state officials to continue to disregard homeschool diplomas from before that date.
“This was obviously not the intended interpretation of the law. Mr. Sage’s parents, who are members of Home School Legal Defense Association, asked HSLDA to intervene. HSLDA Staff Attorney Mike Donnelly began to contact state officials on the graduate’s behalf, but was stonewalled by the department for months,” HSLDA reported.
HSLDA published its report on the situation because of the “protracted fight” and non-responsive nature of the state’s actions.
Kasich had endorsed homeschooling by signing the law to ensure homeschooled graduates are treated equally for purposes of employment or admission to higher education.
HSLDA reported when Sage applied for a job with the state, he was told he would need to obtain a GED before he could be considered, and there were no exceptions to the agency’s policy of not accepting homeschoolers.
Mike Donnelly, HSLDA’s contact attorney for Ohio members, had described state officials as stubborn and unreasonable.
“I’ve never had such a difficult time with a government agency,” he said in the organization’s original report, just before the state announced its reversed course. “I have written two letters, and Mr. Sage has made numerous phone calls to seek a response. I explained that Mr. Sage’s education credentials are more than sufficient under Ohio law and at the very least worthy of consideration. But I never got even so much as a courtesy reply to any of my letters. Not a phone call. Not an email. Nothing. I found the Ohio government agency’s conduct to be both unprofessional and unreasonable.”
HSLDA reported it routinely settles such disputes with Ohio colleges and agencies that discriminate against homeschooled students.
“HSLDA resolved virtually all such disputes readily in favor of the homeschool graduate,” the report said. “Homeschooling is a legal form of education recognized under Ohio law and in Ohio courts, and there has never been a valid reason to discriminate against homeschool graduates.”
But when Sage – who previously worked in corrections in the Morrow County jail and with a contractor at the North Central Corrections Institution – applied with the state for a job in a Trumbull County facility, he was told to “take the GED or they wouldn’t even consider my applications.”
In fact, the diploma fairness act signed by Kasich “was passed in order to clarify this fact so that homeschool graduates would be treated the same as graduates from any other form of education in Ohio,” HSLDA reported.
Instead, Sage received multiple rejections.
The HSLDA had warned that the state agency was “using a law intended to help homeschoolers to discriminate against them.”