The Home School Court Report
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L I T I G A T I O N   R E P O R T

How Our Cases Are Stacking Up

In the interest of Amanda M. and In the interest of Mary S. (two families with sophomore-aged daughters)

This case is pending in Allen County, Kansas, where the county attorney initiated a truancy case claiming the parents had not registered with the state as a non-accredited private school. Even though the families have registered, the county attorney insists upon evidence of the educational progress being made by the 15-year-old youths at home. HSLDA will provide a transcript from Christian Liberty Academy indicating the course work, grades, and progress achieved to date. In this way we hope to gain a dismissal of the case. The trial scheduled for December 20, 1996, was postponed to permit time for the gathering of this information.

Michigan v. Diana Lord

After five years of educating her daughter at home without intervention by government officials, Diana Lord enrolled her daughter in public school for her ninth grade year. Deciding again that it was best to teach her daughter at home, Mrs. Lord withdrew her daughter from the public school to resume home education on about December 1, 1996. The school liaison office is not satisfied that Mrs. Lord is educating her daughter at home and initiated a truancy charge against her in Newaygo County. If we are unable to persuade the prosecutor that Mrs. Lord is in compliance with Michigan law, HSLDA will defend Mrs. Lord at her trial for violation of compulsory attendance law.

Bidwell v. Urbana City Schools

The parents of a seven-year-old boy with emotional problems desired to teach their son at home. Both parents have high school diplomas, but no special educational training. When they provided notification to the school district under Ohio regulations, the superintendent refused to excuse the child from compulsory attendance, stating that the parents are incapable of meeting the child's "social, emotional, and adaptive behavior needs."

HSLDA immediately sent a letter to the school superintendent asking him to reconsider his decision. We pointed out to him that there is not a provision in the Ohio regulations which permits the denial of a family's right to home school its special needs child. We explained that the regulations require only that notice be provided assuring that home education will include certain enumerated academic subjects. The superintendent's concern for the child's special needs are satisfied by the regulations' requirement that the family provide an academic assessment report to the superintendent along with next year's notification. If the academic assessment report indicates that the child is not progressing in accordance with his abilities, then remediation is warranted. However, until that time the U.S. Constitution and the law of Ohio protect the family's right to educate their son at home.

Within ten days of his receipt of our letter, the superintendent reversed his decision and excused, in writing, the Bidwell child from compulsory attendance.

The children of S.

The parents of seven children ages 2—18 are before the court in Stark County Ohio, on allegations of child abuse and neglect. The 15-year-old son recently ran away from home, and the case arises from allegations of physical and emotional abuse made by the boy during the time he was out of his parents' home. This boy was physically abused by his natural father (divorced five years ago) and still suffers tremendous psychological scars. The teenage son has been in complete rebellion against his mother and step-father for the last year, refusing to participate in the home education process.

The question of educational neglect arose when the Department of Human Services' attorney advised the judge that he was unable to discover any paperwork at the school district office indicating that the family is in compliance with state law. Despite the fact that the paperwork was later located and presented to the judge, the court has ordered educational and psychological evaluations of all the school age children. HSLDA appeared in court on a request to reconsider this court order, but the judge refused when the guardian ad litem (the attorney assigned by the court to represent the children) advised the judge that one of the children could not perform basic subtraction and that the guardian had "serious questions about the education of the children." In the event the educational evaluations reveal anything other than normal academic development, we will retain an educational expert familiar with the home education process to testify on behalf of the family. The case is presently set for trial on March 13, 1997.

State of Texas v. Patricia Rogers

Patricia Rogers and her 16-year-old daughter have been summoned to the Justice of the Peace court on charges of Thwarting the Compulsory Attendance Act. Mrs. Rogers resumed home schooling her daughter in January, 1997, her health having prevented her from doing so in the previous three years. In the interim, her daughter has fallen substantially behind her peers, and Mrs. Rogers is determined to catch her up at home. Apparently, the school district does not want to let the youth go. HSLDA will argue that a home school is a private school in Texas and the parent need only provide assurance that she has a written curricululm and that she is providing instruction in five required subjects.