The Home School Court Report
VOLUME XVI, NUMBER 2
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MARCH / APRIL 2000
Cover
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Cover Story
Legislative Hot Spots

Special Features

National Debate Tournament: Round One

National Center Reports

Legislative Tracking for 2000

Goals for 106th Congress

College-Bound Home Schoolers Make Headlines

National Center Completes College Survey

Across the States

State by State

Regular Features

Active Cases

Prayer and Praise

A Contrario Sensu

Around the Globe

Notes to Members

Press Clippings

President’s Page

L  I  T  I  G  A  T  I  O  N     R  E  P  O  R  T
Active Cases

Harrahill v. Monrovia
Filed April 28, 1997

California
Daytime Curfew Sent Back to Trial Court

California Court of Appeals reversed a trial judge’s decision that the daytime curfew ordinance in Monrovia was in conflict with state law. The court of appeals explained that because the ordinance had been amended by the City Council before the judge’s ruling became final, the judge was obliged to rule upon the amended ordinance. Now the case is being sent back to the trial court for a review of the amended ordinance that contains almost all of the same objectionable language. Minors remain prohibited from public places during hours in which their school is in session. Our principal argument is that this ordinance is preempted because the state legislature has already established a comprehensive scheme for handling truancy.

Taylor v. O’Keefe, et al.
Filed May 2, 1997

Civil Rights Case Settled

Based on an anonymous report, a social worker and two police officers coerced entry into the Taylor family’s home. Then, the social worker proceeded to interview the children using questions that violated the children’s innocence. The Taylors sued the social worker and police officers for violation of civil rights, and the case was settled for $70,000.

School District No. 6 v. Jeremy and Suzy Groves
Filed October 6, 1999

Colorado
Case Dismissed on Facts

These parents of a 14-year-old boy were charged with truancy when the school system rejected their notification of intent form. Apparently, the parents had left blank a question regarding the particular dates on which the program would begin and end. Mrs. Groves thought the information was necessary only if the home education were beginning during the course of the traditional school year. At a hearing to present evidence regarding their home instruction program, the judge dismissed the case following an explanation of the facts and law by HSLDA counsel.

In re R.M.
January 21, 2000

Kansas
Educational Neglect Petition Filed

On this educational neglect petition, the judge wants to see evidence that this child is being educated in an orderly manner with a legitimate curriculum. We have forwarded materials such as the daily log and samples of work for review by the guardian ad litem and the county attorney. If they wish to pursue the charges, we will be prepared with expert proof of the competent instruction and organized program.

In re James and John K.
Filed November 24, 1999

Officer Recommends Dismissal

This Crawford County case (where we have represented several families before) involves two boys, ages 10 and 13. The judge appointed a court services officer (CSO) to investigate the home instruction. Though her correspondence and conversation indicated that she would merely observe instruction and review materials during a home visit, the CSO surprised the member in February. She arrived with a “young man” (age 25-30), a “student” of some type, and proceeded to examine the boys with prepared questions on all sorts of subjects. The boys were also asked to read aloud and to write sentences using words such as “automobile” and “bicycle.” These boys had been labeled special ed in the public school and could hardly read when their mother started home educating this year. After the home visit, the CSO was satisfied with the boys’ improvement and recommended dismissal to the court.

State v. Mr. and Mrs. H
Filed January 4, 2000

Michigan
Parents Jailed for Truancy

The Hutchinsons withdrew their second grade son from public school in December and notified the principal in writing that they would be home educating him. A few days later the truant officer came to the house to examine their materials, but the family had been Christmas shopping and was not prepared. The Hutchinsons promised the officer that they would present the necessary paperwork on the following day, which they attempted to do. The officer, however, could not be located, so the parents left materials at the police station. The truant officer filed a criminal complaint and the parents turned themselves in. They were incarcerated for about 12 hours before being released on $200 bond each. Pre-trial conference is set for March 24.

In the interest of J.B.
Filed December 6, 1999

Missouri
Expert Confirms Student’s Progress

St. Louis County Protective Services brought a petition alleging educational neglect regarding an 8-year-old child with severe developmental problems, including the fact that he does not speak in complete sentences. An evaluation by our special education expert, Steven DuVall, Ph.D. reveals that the child is making adequate progress at home and that the parents are addressing his educational needs. The case is set for trial on April 19, 2000.

State v. Mrs. B
Filed December 2, 1999

New Jersey
Curriculum Demands Dropped

These truancy charges arose from the family’s refusal to provide Monroe Township with a curriculum outline including a statement of goals and objectives, the names of texts and workbooks with publishers and copyright dates, and days/hours of instruction. At the courthouse, however, a school official agreed to review the Bob Jones University Press website in order to satisfy the concern that the curriculum described by Mrs. B did, in fact, exist. The case was dismissed without further appearance by Mrs. B or HSLDA.

State v. Mrs. S
Filed November 5, 1999

Pennsylvania
Superintendent Dismisses Charges

This widow and mother of a 15-year-old boy faced truancy charges stemming from her alleged failure to provide standardized test results following the boy’s 8th grade year. Home schooled students must test after grades 3, 5, and 8, but this boy was still in the public school until March of his 8th grade year. He took the state achievement test with his public school classmates, but the superintendent would not accept the results. When HSLDA pointed out the statutory reference to the state assessment test as one of the acceptable examinations, the superintendent dismissed the case.

Anderson County School District Two v. Mr. and Mrs. P
Filed December 17, 1999

South Carolina
Expired Membership Causes Confusion
In April 1999, Mr. & Mrs. P began home schooling their children and complied with the home school law by becoming members of HEART, a home school association. Mrs. P mistakenly thought that membership in this association ran through calendar year 1999, but their membership expired at the end of the 1998–1999 school year. Mr. & Mrs. P failed to renew their membership in HEART for the 1999–2000 school year until December 20, 1999. Shortly thereafter, they were served with the contempt of court documents alleging that the P children had been unlawfully absent from school for 85 days during the 1999–2000 school year. Mr. & Mrs. P were substantially complying with the statutory requirements of the home school association during the time they thought they were members of this association. HSLDA reached an agreement with the Juvenile Solicitor in Anderson, South Carolina, to continue this case until such time as Mrs. P submits copies of progress reports required by statute to the public school officials for review. If these progress reports are in order, the solicitor has agreed to dismiss this case.

State v. Cutchin and State v. Nabholz
Filed May 20, 1999 and September 8, 1999 respectively

South Dakota
Birth Certificate Cases Dismissed

Following oral argument on March 1, 2000, a Rapid City judge ruled that the birth certificate statute is unconstitutionally vague. He said that the statute might just as plausibly be read to mean that the birth certificate should be filed at the school of alternative instruction as the public school. The cases against the two families were then dismissed.

State v. Family of P
Filed December 14, 1999

Texas
Judge Wants to See Progress

These first-time Houston home schoolers withdrew their daughter from public school in November 1999 and are being prosecuted for thwarting compulsory attendance prior to that date. After learning that the parents are home educating, the judge continued the case for three months to review evidence of academic progress at home. The judge advised that he may order testing. However, HSLDA provided a memorandum of law to the court that this testing is not legally required and presented the family’s home instruction materials to the court on March 21, 2000. The judge asked our office to send a sample of materials to the court by mail at the end of May, at which time the charges will be dismissed.

P E N D I N G   C A S E S

California

DeSantis v. Mulvane
Filed: 3/2/00, Central District of California.

Nature of Case: Social workers insisted upon entry into the DeSantis home to investigate allegations of abuse. Mrs. Desantis told the workers that they did “not have her consent to enter, but the gate was open.” The social workers then pushed through the gate and marched into the house. Inside the home, the two younger children were strip-searched and the six year old was subjected to a traumatizing private interview. The DeSantis family is suing the social workers for violating their civil rights.

District of Columbia

New v. Perry
Filed: 1/16/96 (writ of habeas corpus), DC.

Nature of Case: A U.S. soldier ordered to put on UN uniform and to become part of UN force, refused to do so, citing the unconstitutionality of U.S. soldiers donning the uniform of and fighting for a foreign government. The soldier was court-martialed.

Ruling: On 11/25/97, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his request to hear the case in federal court, requiring New to first exhaust his military appeals. The Supreme Court denied certiorari.

Status: On appeal in military courts.

Maryland

Goulart & Travers v. Calvert County
Filed: 1/31/00, Calvert County.

Nature of Case: This Maryland county has a policy that its community centers are not available for scheduled use by home schoolers. Even though other groups may conduct the same kinds of classes, home schoolers are forbidden. HSLDA, on behalf of two families, sued the county for discriminating against home schoolers in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Status: The county’s motion to dismiss is pending.

Nevada

Hooks v. Clark County School District
Filed: 1/9/98, District of Nevada.

Nature of Case: Home schooled child was denied special education services despite federal law requiring provision of such services to “all students.” The family sued to obtain services.

Ruling: On 10/23/98, a federal district court judge ruled that home school students in Nevada are not entitled to such services.

Status: The case is on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and is scheduled for oral argument on 4/12/00.

Note: The Nevada legislature changed its law to specifically allow home school students to receive special education services. Now the only issue before the court is whether the school district was under an obligation to provide services under federal law before the state statute was amended.

New Jersey

Forstrom v. Fair Lawn School District
Filed: 2/5/98, Bergen County.

Nature of Case: The Forstrom’s son was denied special education services despite federal law requiring provision of such services to “all students.” The family sued to obtain services.

Ruling: On 10/29/99, court ruled for Forstroms, ordering child to benefit from state and federal funding.

Status: The school district and state department of education appealed.

North Carolina

In the Matter of S
9/15/99, Cleveland County.

Nature of Case: At about 7 a.m., Mr. and Mrs. S’s two-year-old daughter went outside without her clothes. Her brother brought her back in about three minutes later. Within two hours, a social worker demanded entry into the home and individual interviews with each child without the presence of their mother. The family refused and DSS filed a petition alleging “interference with a child abuse investigation.”

Ruling: The judge ruled that social workers are not “state actors,” that a child neglect investigation is not a “search,” and that the Fourth Amendment did not provide the parents with a “lawful excuse” to refuse entry.

Status: HSLDA appealed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

South Dakota

State v. Rebekah C
Filed: 7/28/99.

Nature of Case: This second-year home schooling mother was denied an exemption from public school attendance based upon the superintendent’s illegal review of her alternative instruction program.

Status: HSLDA appealed the denial to the state board of education, where the case is set for hearing on 4/26/00.

West Virginia

State v. Mrs. S.
Filed: 9/22/99, Calhoun County.

Nature of Case: The primary issue is whether the superintendent may reject a portfolio review because he does not approve of the certified teacher. HSLDA filed a motion to dismiss on three grounds: 1) The statute does not authorize a criminal complaint; 2) The statute does not give the superintendent authority to pre-approve certified teachers for portfolio review; and 3) Mrs. S has addressed the only defect referenced in the superintendent’s letter of September 1999, which concerned assessment.

Status: Trial is scheduled for 4/20/00.