The Home School Court Report
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MAY / JUNE 2000
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Cover Story
A Tribute to Home School Moms

Special Features

Changing of the Guard

Legal Contacts for March/April 2000

National Center Reports

CAP Training and Lobby Day

Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Marriage Tax Penalty Relief

Across the States

State by State

Regular Features

Press Clippings

Prayer and Praise

Active Cases

President’s Page

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Active Cases

In re C.W. (Adams County)
Filed April 11, 2000

Ready to Defend Special Needs Education

A dependency and neglect petition has been filed regarding this HSLDA member’s 11-year-old son with special needs. The petition alleges that the child “has not been formally enrolled in school for at least three years,” “seems significantly delayed in his academic abilities,” and “appears to be socially isolated.” If necessary, HSLDA will retain a special education expert to testify concerning the outstanding results obtained at home with special needs students, as well as the adequacy of the education being provided to C.W.

In re R.M.
Filed January 24, 2000

Case Dismissed

On this educational neglect petition, the judge asked to see evidence that the child is being educated in an orderly manner with a legitimate curriculum. HSLDA forwarded the daily log and samples of work to the guardian ad litem and the county attorney, who then agreed to dismiss the charges.

In re Family of C.

Social Services Wants to “Approve” Mom’s Program

In spite of a letter from the school district confirming the right of Mrs. C to teach her special needs child at home, the social services department is threatening to remove the child if not satisfied with the mother’s program. We are attempting to negotiate a resolution of this dispute before a petition is filed alleging educational or medical neglect.

Lydia Goulart and Kyle Travers v. Calvert County
Filed January 31, 2000

Community Center Denies Home Schoolers Use

The Northeast Community Center in Prince Frederick, Maryland, refuses to permit home schoolers to use its facility for meetings, workshops, or organized recreation of any kind. We have the statement of the actual policy in writing on three applications by our clients for community center use. Those applications read: “Commissioners’ policy states that home schoolers may not use community centers.” Now HSLDA has filed a lawsuit asking the United States District Court at Baltimore to declare the policy a violation of the First Amendment guarantee of free speech. When a governmental entity opens its facility to the general use of the public, as Calvert County has done with its community centers, the entity may not restrict the use of the facilities by particular groups. The county claims that the facilities are not generally open to the public, but are limited public facilities like prisons and the auditorium at the FBI building. We are not aware, however, of any other group being denied use of the facilities. It will be up to the court to decide whether the practice and policy of the county with respect to the community centers has made them public forums generally available to the community.

In re Shanovia Brown
Filed April 18, 2000

New York
ACS Files Educational Neglect Petition

These parents of three school-age children withdrew their nine-year-old special needs daughter in February to teach her at home. She could not spell her name, nor did she know the colors when she came home. Mrs. Brown provided the statutory notice to the school district, but did not follow with the Individual Home Instruction Plan (IHIP) because she was waiting for a tailor-made curriculum from Hewitt Foundation. When the 30-day period for filing the IHIP expired, Administrative Children’s Services (ACS) filed an educational neglect petition.

Mrs. Brown received her curriculum and filed the IHIP on May 8. The school district has approved the IHIP, and HSLDA will ask that the case be dismissed.

State v. Family of P
Filed December 3, 1999

Charges to Be Dismissed

These first-time home schoolers in Houston withdrew their daughter from public school in November 1999 and were prosecuted for thwarting compulsory attendance prior to that date. Without representation, these non-HSLDA members pled “no contest.” Before sentencing, the judge continued the case for three months to review evidence of academic progress at home. In fact, the judge advised that he might order testing. With their right to home school in jeopardy, the family contacted HSLDA. Since this proceeding can impact our member families, we agreed to represent the P family at the sentencing hearing. We provided a memorandum of law to the court and reviewed the family’s materials with the judge on March 21, 2000. The judge did not order testing and indicated that the charges will be dismissed after another review of the child’s portfolio.

State v. Family of F
Filed April 3, 2000

District Ignores Verbal Notice

Another Houston family faced prosecution in connection with withdrawing their fourth grade son for home education. After wrestling with the school district to meet the child’s special needs throughout the school year, the parents decided to take responsibility for all of their son’s education. Apparently ignoring the family’s verbal notice that they would be home educating, the district filed a criminal complaint. When it became apparent that the family had filed written notice and that they were represented by counsel, the district dismissed the charges.

Balderson v. Almasian and Richmond County School BoardóWarsaw, VA
Filed April 6, 2000

Parents Falsely Arrested

Home schooling parents Gerald and Angela Balderson were falsely arrested Friday, March 17, after truancy charges were filed against them by Bryan Almasian, assistant principal at Richmond County Elementary School.

Virginia law says home schoolers are required to notify their superintendent of their intention to home school. The Baldersons provided their notice on February 25. The law also says that after appropriate review of the case, school superintendents, not other school administrators, are to file truancy charges.

Following HSLDA’s letter of representation and explanation of the situation to a local school administrator, charges against the Baldersons were dropped on March 22—one day before they were to appear in court.

A civil rights lawsuit has been filed against the assistant principal for false arrest, malicious prosecution, and violation of due process of law.

State v. Mrs. S
Filed September 22, 1999

West Virginia
Magistrate Acquits Mother

This Calhoun County mother was recently acquitted of charges of violating the state’s compulsory attendance law. The superintendent directed that the charges be filed because the family’s notice of intent was unacceptable to him. State law requires that, at the conclusion of the school year, an academic assessment be provided consisting of a standardized test or a narrative review by a certified teacher. The superintendent believes he has the right to pre-approve the certified teacher who performs the review, and he rejected the review submitted by the S family.

Even though at trial the magistrate ignored the certified teacher issue, he found Mrs. S not guilty because the child was enrolled in the School of Tomorrow, a satellite program for home schoolers. In the magistrate’s opinion, this school is a private school program that satisfies the parent’s duty to educate the child.

Bevins, Radabaugh, and Smith v. Calhoun County School Board
Filed April 11, 2000

West Virginia
Families Challenge School Board Policies

Three families have filed a suit for declaratory judgment regarding three home education policies of the school board. The policies challenged are as follows: 1) the right of the superintendent to reject narrative reviews from certified teachers, 2) the right to require an oral defense of the plan of instruction before the school board, and 3) the right to criminally prosecute parents whose notice to home school is rejected. A motion for a temporary injunction against criminal prosecution of these families will be heard on May 3.