The Home School Court Report
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Active Cases

State v. Mrs. R
District drops charges

An Alabama school district agreed to dismiss truancy charges against a home schooling mom on January 8, 2001, just two weeks before the January 23 trial date. On August 12, 2000, the R family notified the public school that it was enrolled in a registered umbrella school. Nevertheless, Mrs. R was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Despite Mrs. R's blindness, she has been able to make significant progress with her 12-year-old son's education.

Mr. & Mrs. MacIntyre v. Scottsdale Public Schools
Civil rights complaint filed

While Mr. and Mrs. MacIntyre's visually impaired children were partially enrolled in Scottsdale Public Schools, the school district provided special education services. However, now that the children are 100 percent home educated, the district is denying those services. The children qualify for orientation and mobility training, Braille reading and writing training, and special equipment. Such training and specialized equipment is available to students in traditional private schools.

When this Home School Legal Defense Association member family requested a due process hearing, the district refused-claiming that home-educated students are not entitled to any services. The district's decision is based upon a May 2000 Arizona Attorney General's opinion concluding that home school students are ineligible for services under both federal and state law, in spite of the state law mandate that services be available to "all handicapped children in the district."

On January 24, 2001, HSLDA filed a civil rights complaint on behalf of the MacIntyres to challenge the Scottsdale Schools' decision to deny services based upon this opinion, which we believe to be contrary to law.

Marsh v. Bellanca
Truant in July?

It was a hot July day, and most schools were in the middle of summer vacation. Answering a knock on the door, Mr. Marsh, a member father in Riverside, California, discovered a social worker standing on the doorstep, flanked by two uniformed police officers.

The social worker had come to investigate child neglect and abuse because Mr. Marsh's son was not registered in public school. When the father assured the officials that his son was enrolled in a private school, the social worker admitted he was investigating an anonymous tip and insisted on interviewing the child. Over the father's objections, the two officers pushed their way into the house. "You have entered my home against my will and I am going to contact my attorney," Mr. Marsh cautioned them.

The social worker inspected the child's sleeping quarters and then interviewed him out of the presence of the father. After Mr. Marsh gave the social worker the name and phone of the private school, as well as the birth dates of himself and his wife, the officials left, indicating that the investigation may not be over. HSLDA has filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of this family in the Central District of California at Riverside.

In re Sarah D
Judge refuses to hear evidence, orders child to public school

In the last issue of the Court Report, we explained how District Court Judge Sue Carol Browning refused to hear Mrs. D's evidence regarding her legal home schooling program and ordered 14-year-old Sarah D back to public school. When the judge learned that Sarah was not attending public school as ordered, a warrant for Mrs. D's arrest was issued. HSLDA immediately appealed to a higher court who ruled that Judge Browning ignored due process of law and struck down her first order for Mrs. D's arrest and for SarahD to be picked up by the police.

On January 8, 2001, Mrs. D and Sarah again appeared before Judge Browning. The court again refused to hear testimony regarding Mrs. D's home instruction program and condemned Sarah to public school. Because the appellate judge was on vacation and the substitute judge would not issue an emergency stay on the order, Sarah has been attending public school. Her trial on the truancy charges is scheduled for February 9, 2001. HSLDA will represent Mrs. D, and home education expert Dr. Brian Ray will testify on behalf of the family.

In re Care & Protection of Megan
District drops unreasonable demands

When Megan's mother decided to begin home schooling, she provided the Northampton School Department, in accordance with the law, with a list of texts and materials for history, science, math, language arts, spelling, art, and music. Not satisfied, the school district filed a petition alleging that Megan is a child who needs care and protection.

With the care and protection case pending, HSLDA and our member met with the school district. After additional assurances from Megan's mother regarding the home instruction, the school's attorney issued a letter on January 10, 2001, approving her home instruction program. The judge postponed the proceeding for several months during which time the home instruction program will go forward. At the end of that time, some kind of progress report of the child will be submitted and the case dismissed.

State v. Mrs. W
22 Charges Dismissed

A district justice dismissed the truancy charges against Mrs. W before the school district put its first witness on the stand. Though 22 separate charges had been filed against Mrs. W in connection with her home instruction program, Judge Scott Gross held that the dispute had no place in his court.

The truancy charges stemmed from the school district's unreasonable and illegal demands. When Mrs. W returned her 10-year-old son to the public school on October 2, 2001, after five weeks of home education, the superintendent wanted Mrs. W's portfolio materials and an evaluation immediately-even though Pennsylvania law only requires them at the end of the school year. Then, he gave her a 10-day deadline in which to complete and submit the portfolio and evaluation, or face prosecution. (State law allows 30 days for home school parents to respond to such requests.)

Thirty days after receipt of the superintendent's warning, Mrs. W provided both the portfolio and an evaluation. Unfortunately, the superintendent had already initiated truancy charges. On January 31, 2001, HSLDA represented Mrs. W against these charges that were filed in blatant disregard for Pennsylvania home education law. The judge agreed that Mrs. W had not violated compulsory attendance law and dismissed the charges after each side made its opening statement.

State v. Mr. & Mrs. B
Truancy charges finally dropped

During Thanksgiving break, the B family pulled their six-year-old son out of public school and advised the school that they would be privately educating him. Two weeks later, the school district charged Mr. and Mrs. B with violating the compulsory attendance law and summoned them to court. In compliance with Texas law, the B family delivered a letter of assurance to the school district on December 26, 2000. Finally, prior to trial on February 5, 2001, the district agreed to dismiss the charges.