On July 1, 2000, Michael Smith will become the second President of Home School Legal Defense Association. Michael Farris, who has been President of HSLDA from its inception in March 1983, will remain with the organization in a part-time capacity as Chairman and General Counsel.
This change recognizes two realities, Farris said. First, opening Patrick Henry College requires more and more of my time and attention. Second, HSLDA is a large organization requiring a full-time person in the office of president. And there is no better person on the planet than Mike Smith to run the day-to-day operations of HSLDA. He has been a part of HSLDA from the beginning and has a proven love for the people God has called us to serve.
Together, HSLDA President Michael P. Farris (right) and Vice President J. Michael Smith (left) have defended home schoolers and championed parental rights for 17 years. On July 1, 2000, their titles will change, but their mission remains the same.
Farriss role as Chairman of the Board will enable him to continue to help give the organization vision and general direction. As General Counsel, Farris will still supervise all litigation conducted by the organization. He will also continue to direct HSLDAs federal lobbying program.
Mike Farris is a bright, highly experienced constitutional lawyer, Smith said. He is the best legal mind we have to analyze our cases and develop our strategy. Mikes willingness and enthusiasm to continue to lead our courtroom efforts is critical to the protection of HSLDA members and the rights of home schoolers generally.
Home School Legal Defense Association was incorporated in March 1983, when Mike Farris took his idea for the organization to Mike Smith to seek his participation. Together with their wives, Vickie Farris and Elizabeth Smith, the two couples formed the initial Board of Directors of HSLDA. The Farrises lived in Olympia, Washington, at the time. The Smiths resided in Santa Monica, California.
Jim and Jeanie Carden of Fort Worth, Texas, were added to the board shortly afterwards. After a few months, the three wives asked to be excused from board membership since all were busy home schooling their own children. Jim passed away in 1997.
HSLDAs first office was in Olympia, Washington. HSLDA headquarters were moved in the fall of 1983 to Washington, DC, when Mike Farris moved to take a full-time job as General Counsel for Concerned Women for America. In the early days of HSLDA, both Farris and Smith led the organization as volunteers.
Farris became employed at HSLDA in April 1986, leaving CWA after a brief transition. Smith left his private practice in Santa Monica when he moved to Virginia in 1987 to join the organization full-time.
Farris will continue to be the voice of HSLDA on the daily radio program, Home School Heartbeat. Smith will direct all administrative matters at HSLDA, including leading all endeavors in the legal department short of litigation.
The secret of HSLDAs being able to operate without an increase in dues for about 15 years is the fact that our legal department has been able to resolve about 90 percent of the legal conflicts before we ever get to the courtroom. Mike Smith will not only continue to supervise this critical part of our organization, but he will still personally handle legal conflicts that arise in California, Farris said.
While we all give the Lord credit for any success we have seen, Farris added, Mike Smith has been used by God to help Californians enjoy a great deal of practical freedom despite claims by certain people within the education establishment that home schooling in California is mostly illegal.
I believe that under Mike Smiths leadership HSLDA will see continued growth both numerically and in terms of the rights of home schoolers, Farris said. Great things lie ahead.