Home School Court Report
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Cover Story
The new pioneers: Black home schoolers

On the frontier: Four home school families

Special Features
Kentucky teen finally free to home school

Membership statistics—Top ten states

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State by State

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Freedom Watch

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Notes to members

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HSLDA legal contacts for April 2001

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Resolving contacts . . . deep in the heart of Texas

While a Home School Legal Defense Association member was in the process of removing her child from public school in Austin County because of neurological problems, the local public school slapped the mother with truancy charges and a judge placed her on probation for 30 days.

When the mother explained that she was beginning to teach her daughter at home, the judge-who admitted he really did not know the law regarding home schooling-told her she could continue to home school if

she would agree to one of two options. First, the judge said the mother could agree to report back him to him every six months and have her daughter take the annual Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) test used in the public schools. In the alternative, he said, she could have her 15 year old pass the GED. However, neither option is required by state law.

HSLDA's legal staff provided counsel to this mother on her rights and helped her work through the situation-resulting in the successful withdrawal of her daughter from public school to freely home school without any of the judge's restrictions.

Because her son was being harassed and was not doing well in his studies, a single mother removed her son from the Lake Dallas Public School. Home schooling enabled the young man to focus on his studies without distraction. Unfortunately, the school district did not recognize the mother's parental right to make this decision and filed truancy charges. After HSLDA attorney Tom Sanders intervened, the district dropped the charges.

Harris County Child Protection Services (CPS) contacted an HSLDA family and threatened to force them to enroll their child in a public school so that CPS could monitor the child. HSLDA intervened and after several phone consultations with the family and CPS, CPS dropped its threat and the investigation.

Following an anonymous tip to Copper's Cove Independent School District, a truant officer arrived at an HSLDA member's home to investigate. The officer told the family that in order to home school, they would have to complete and return a very extensive questionnaire. HSLDA was able to resolve the contact by writing a letter indicating the family's compliance with the minimal requirements identified under the Leeper case.

A new HSLDA member family withdrew their special needs daughter from Van Vleck High School and began home schooling. They had a curriculum prepared and even hired a tutor to assist them. The principal, however, told the mother her daughter was "a child in need of care," so she could not be home schooled. He then informed the mother she was required to attend an administrative hearing to determine if the child's special needs were met. HSLDA wrote the school official explaining that once the family formally withdrew from the public school they no longer were under the jurisdiction of the federal regulations that govern special needs children. HSLDA further informed him that the family would not attend a hearing and that they were in full compliance with the law. The matter was resolved.

In San Antonio, an HSLDA family asked their pediatrician to treat their adopted child's ear infection. Since the 4-year-old child had certain special needs, the doctor referred the family to a developmental specialist. However, the family was already meeting their child's needs through other means, and declined to visit the specialist. The doctor labeled the family negligent and said he would turn them over to child protective services. HSLDA contacted the doctor and persuaded him not to carry out his threat since the family was, in fact, meeting their child's needs.

The 18-year-old daughter of an HSLDA member in Dallas was finishing her last year of high school through home schooling. The Social Security Administration denied the child her benefits because she was not enrolled in a full-time secondary school. HSLDA wrote a letter to the Social Security Administration, resolving the matter by demonstrating that the family's home school was in fact a legitimate private school under Texas law.

If you are contacted by a school official, please contact the legal staff at HSLDA immediately.

- Christopher J. Klicka

See Social Services Contact Policy