The legal right to homeschool in Maryland is established through the compulsory school attendance law. Specifically, Education Article Section 7-301 requires children between a certain age to "attend a public school regularly during the entire school year unless the child is otherwise receiving regular, thorough instruction during the school year in the studies usually taught in the public schools to children of the same age."

In 1984, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), under authority of the General Assembly, officially adopted home instruction regulations, COMAR 13A.10.01-.05 to guide how homeschooling could take place in Maryland. Soon after, the Maryland Home Education Association was formed and offered homeschool support and advocacy efforts. Run by a public school teacher whose children were being homeschooled, MHEA provided leadership during the early years of homeschooling in Maryland. By the early 2000s, MHEA became mostly inactive, as its founder focused his efforts on growing his private school, which also provided homeschool umbrella services.

In 2003, Maryland families were caught by surprise when MSDE proposed new homeschooling regulations - without having first sought input from interested parties, as required by law. Homeschool families rallied and requested that a new meeting be called to discuss the proposed changes before MSDE implemented them. Ultimately, the regulatory changes included an annual verification form that parents would be required to sign, stating that they wish to continue to homeschool. In addition, a process was implemented to require notification if a student's homeschool status changed during the school year.

Not much happened in the Maryland homeschool world for the next few years. Occasional concerns would arise in local counties that a simple phone call often resolved. In June 2010, a brief informational presentation on the status of homeschooling was presented to the Board of Education by MSDE staff. No representatives from the homeschool community were invited to attend. No direct action came from that meeting.

The Maryland Homeschool Association formed in early 2014, out of 10-years of grassroots efforts led by Alessa Giampaolo Keener and her organization, Hand In Hand Homeschool.

Initially, the Hand In Hand website began as an informal project back in 2003, when Alessa wanted to learn how to create webpages. Always a collector of information, Alessa decided to share news and resources with other Maryland homeschool families through the new website. As MHEA became inactive, Hand In Hand stepped up its community outreach by volunteering hundreds of hours each year - with friends, kids, and volunteers - monitoring and reading education-related bills considered by the Maryland Assembly. Using old-fashioned grassroots organizing, Hand In Hand successfully rallied statewide homeschoolers to oppose proposed legislation that would have placed new and unnecessary restrictions on families who choose to educate their children at home.

As Hand In Hand grew into an educational advocacy business, the Maryland-specific content was spun off into its own website - and MDHSA came into being, continuing the tradition of an all-volunteer run, grassroots organization.

Rooted in the shared commonalities for the love of our children and our commitment to education - yet celebrating the differences that each family holds dear to their individual households - Maryland Homeschool Association continues to strive to support the needs of Maryland homeschooling families.


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