School Districts Misapply Law
Several school districts this year have exceeded their authority when dealing with Home School Legal Defense Association member families.
Orange County Public Schools refused to process a familys notice of intent, demanding additional information before enrolling the children in home education. Florida law does not require families to enroll children, but simply to notify the local superintendent of their intent to home school.
In Hardee County, a family was told to submit standardized achievement test scores after they had already submitted an evaluation by a certified teachera legal alternative to testing.
Pasco County refused to recognize a familys home-based private school. An established, legal option for home schooling, 300-400 home-based private schools operate around the state. The Florida Coalition of Christian Private Schools Association (FCCPSA), led by President Albert Daniels, has been instrumental in networking these schools.
These families contacted HSLDA immediately, and we were able to help them resolve their difficulties with the school districts.
HRS Harasses Family
In Tampa, a home school familys recent enrollment of their first grade child in the public schools quickly turned into a nightmare. During a special educational analysis, the teacher asked the child if he went to church, if he thought people should go to church, and whether Jesus went to church. He was also asked if his parents spanked him, to which he said yes. On hearing this, the school contacted Health and Rehabilitative Services. HRS pulled the child out of class and strip searched him. Finding nothing, HRS went to the childs home and interviewed his parents extensively.
Feeling that it had been a mistake to send the boy to public school, the family kept him home the next day and prepared to begin home schooling again. The HRS social worker came to the house and insisted on entering and seeing the child, but the father refused. At that moment, HSLDA contacted the family based on a request from a member family who knew them well. The social worker refused to talk to HSLDA, explaining that he would only talk to the Attorney General.
The social worker then called the police who soon arrived at the door. The police officer gave the phone to the social worker, who told HSLDA that he had the right to take the child if the family did not cooperate. When we told him that there was no reasonable cause for removing the child, the HRS representative yelled, Tell it to the judge! and hung up. We immediately contacted this mans supervisor and reported his unprofessional harassment tactics.
Meanwhile, the police officer promised that the child would not be taken, so HSLDA allowed the social worker to briefly see the child. The situation has been resolved and the family has enrolled their son in a home-based private school.
Christopher J. Klicka