Home School Court Report
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VOLUME XV, NUMBER 1
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JANUARY / FEBRUARY 1999
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Cover Story
Home Visits Ruled Unconstitutional by Mass. Supreme Judicial Court

Special Features
A Scorecard for the 105th Congress

Another Home Schooling Statesman

National Center Reports
Vocational Education Bill Passes With Protection

Preparing for the 106th Congress

FDIC Drafts “Know Your Customer” Regulations

Children’s Scholarship Fund Moves Forward

Free Computers for Home Schoolers

Across the States
State by State

Regular Features
Press Clippings

Notes to Members

Prayer and Praise

Active Cases

President’s Page

H  O  M  E     S  C  H  O  O  L  I  N  G     N  E  W  S     F  R  O  M
Across the States
AL · AZ · AR · CA · CT · FL · GA · IL · IN · IA · KS · KY · LA · ME · MA · MI · NJ · NM · NY · ND · OH · OK · OR · PA · RI · TN · TX · UT · VA · WA
New York
Freedom “from” Religion?
    As a courtesy to the Port Chester-Rye Union Free School District, a Home School Legal Defense Association family provided the superintendent with photocopies of tables of contents for the textbooks they were planning to use this year. The school district wrote back, accepting the home instruction plan, but with a few exceptions. The family had chosen to use history books from a religious publisher, and the school district noticed that several of the chapter titles seemed to make reference to religious teachings. The school district asked that, since the public school is not allowed to teach or include religious education as part of their accepted curriculum, the family not mention instruction in these areas in their quarterly reports.
    HSLDA’s attorney for New York, Dewitt Black, wrote the school district a letter which pointed out several errors in the district’s reasoning. First, home school students are not public school students, and thus are not subject to public school limitations on curriculum. Also, New York law requires that parents tell the school district four times each year exactly what is being covered in each area; to simply ignore certain chapters that had been taught would be violating the law. Attorney Black reassured the school that public school districts are not expected to accept or approve religious curricula because of current judicial interpretation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. There is no liability to a local school district when a family selects a religiously-oriented curriculum to teach the required subjects under the home instruction law.

Confusion over State Assessment Tests
    Some school districts are confused as to what tests home school students are actually required to take. For instance, the Pine Plains Central School District recently sent a letter to an HSLDA member family stating that the New York State Assessment Tests are required in grades four, five, and eight, and that all home school students must come to the school to participate in them.
    In a written response, Dewitt Black informed the school district that although these tests are mandatory for public school students, home school students are not required to take them, either in the school or elsewhere. The requirements for evaluating the progress of home school students are clearly laid out in Section 100.10 of the commissioner’s regulations, and state assessment tests are not required under these regulations.

New York
    Like a giant three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle, the Statue of Liberty was assembled from parts shipped to New York in 214 packing crates.