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Threatened with truancy

Home School Legal Defense Association recently assisted a family in Cordova (Shelby County) threatened with truancy charges by public school officials.

This family was in compliance with Tennessee's compulsory attendance law. They had enrolled their school-aged children in New System School, Inc., a church-related school under Tennessee Code Annotated § 49-50-801. However, when neighbors told the Tennessee Department of Children's Services that the children were not in school, a social worker came to the family's home. To verify compliance with the school attendance law, she asked the local school district if the family had filed a notice of home schooling. None was found, so the district sent truancy notices to the family.

HSLDA was able to head off actual truancy charges by writing the Shelby County Schools supervisor of pupil services. We explained that the children's enrollment in the satellite program of the church-related school did not require notice to the public school officials at any grade level. This option is not considered to be "home schooling" by the Tennessee State Department of Education, so these parents do not have to comply with any of the requirements of the home school law. — Dewitt T. Black