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Program that helps thousands of Colorado homeschooled kids at risk of losing funding

State's most vulnerable children begs State Board of Education to reconsider proposed rule change
State's most vulnerable children begs State Board of Education to reconsider proposed rule change 03:08

Some of the Colorado's most vulnerable children are begging the Colorado State Board of Education to reconsider a proposed rule change. The change would effectively eliminate a school enrichment program that helps more than 3,000 homeschooled kids.

School board members say it's meant to ensure public money is being spent only on public education, but parents -- many of whom have kids with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities -- say the rule change eliminates a program that has changed their kids' lives and helped them thrive when every other program failed.

"Please allow us to see through the remainder of Adaline's first grade school year," Megan Johnson pleaded with board members.


She's among dozens of parents who testified in opposition to the rule change. Her daughter has autism.

Tess Marlin's son has dyslexia, ADHD, speech delays and severe food allergies.

"I talked to every therapist at each school. They all told me to go somewhere else. The only program in this state that has supported us, that supported him is My Tech High," Marlin said.

My Tech High is a program school districts contract with to help homeschooled students. It offers personalized curriculum for kids, who check in once a week with a certified teacher, and count as part time students for the purposes of public funding.

Some board members say because the instruction is largely parent-led, it doesn't qualify for public dollars. They say a proposed new rule simply clarifies that.


 "If there is a desire to have homeschool education funded, then that would be a question really for the general assembly," said Jennifer Okes, the Department of Education Chief Operating Officer.

But administrators at My Tech High say the program has been funded by public school districts for the last five years. Board member Steve Durham, who opposes the rule change says the program costs $78 per child.

"These kids, a lot of them, cannot benefit from the public schools and should have other options, and particularly given the low cost," Durham said.

Marlin says her son is evidence of the difference My Tech High is making.

"Today he is thriving. He is at or above grade level in every core subject," she said.

If adopted the rule change would only limit My Tech High for elementary students. It allows middle and high school students more flexibility in terms of the type of programs and curriculum that count toward part-time school status. Parents are asking the board to extend that same flexibility to younger students. The board says it will make its decision in March.

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