Waterville usurps state role
Former Superintendent of Waterville Public Schools Edward J. LeBlanc usurped the function of the state when he sent home school families a form entitled "Application for Equivalent Instruction through Alternative Home Instruction Program." This application imitated the form developed by Maine's Commissioner of Education.
LeBlanc's cover letter stated: "The information contained in this application will enable the superintendent to determine if the children are receiving equivalent instruction for the purposes of compliance with the compulsory school attendance law." This assertion boldly ignored the important fact that only the commissioner of education has the authority to make that determination.
Nonetheless, about 10 home school families filled out and returned the form to the superintendent, believing they could thus obtain lawful approval for their home school program. However, information sent to LeBlanc was of no legal effect. Families who sent him the form, but did not file appropriate information with the state, do not have appropriate protection against an action for truancy or other action in enforcement of the compulsory attendance law.
When Home School Legal Defense Association contacted the present superintendent, Eric Haley, on behalf of our members, he was very apologetic for the situation created by his predecessor. HSLDA explained that the former superintendent had placed home school families in legal jeopardy. We asked Haley to communicate an apology to the home school families affected and to ask them on an individual basis whether they wanted him to forward the information they sent to Waterville Public Schools to Maine's Commissioner of Education or take other appropriate action. Superintendent Haley indicated his willingness to do this.
Although LeBlanc's scheme left home school families exposed to prosecution for truancy, he made sure that the school system itself was well protected. "If agreement is reached, the public school will include the home schoolers in their enrollment count for state reimbursement," his form stated. Thus, while the school system was preparing to line its pockets, it was fleecing the home schoolers.
HSLDA is glad to see that Superintendent Haley is committed to rectifying LeBlanc's errors. — Scott A. Woodruff