Standing up for home school freedom
Even when a state has a home schooling law as good as Colorado's, home educators still find themselves facing school officials who, knowingly or unknowingly, attempt to bend or exceed that law. For example, Highland School District demanded that a Home School Legal Defense Association member family in Pierce have their child take the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) test. Highland's letter erroneously stated that "all 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students are required to take this test." But HSLDA explained to the principal that home schoolers are not required to take the state assessment and insisted that the district stop using this letter.
Several months ago, the Pine River Times reported Bayfield School District Board of Directors' discussion of a proposal to require home school families to use an "approved curriculum." Some of the directors said they "don't have any problem doing beyond what the state law requires." HSLDA immediately wrote the superintendent, promising legal action if such an unlawful policy were adopted, and the board dropped the proposal.
In Denver, an HSLDA family who have been home schooling for 15 years received a letter alleging that their children were not in compliance with the compulsory attendance law. The letter threatened to initiate criminal proceedings within five days. HSLDA contacted the official in charge of Denver home schooling matters. After further investigation, the school district admitted that it had lost the HSLDA member's notice of intent and blamed the mailroom. The situation was resolved and our member family did not have to appear in court.
Any HSLDA member family who receives a letter from their school district requesting information beyond the law should contact HSLDA immediately and we will notify the school district of their illegal policy.
In Greeley, Weld County Schools filed a "petition to compel attendance" against Mrs. R, an HSLDA member. When HSLDA contacted the school district's lawyer, we discovered that although the home schooling mother had filed her notice of intent to home school in a timely manner, her ex-husband had contacted the school district and withdrawn the notice of intent. Without this notification, the school district considered the mother to be in violation of the law.
Upon researching Colorado's laws, HSLDA established that Mrs. R was "the parent in charge and in control" of the nonpublic home-based educational program, thus the only parent with authority to file the notice of intent to home school and to make decisions for her children. Furthermore, if her ex-husband objected to home schooling, he should have sought redress in domestic relations court, not criminal court.
The judge agreed with HSLDA's arguments and wondered why the case ended up in his court in the first place. Both the school district attorney and the judge agreed to dismiss the case and the family has been able to continue home schooling.
— Christopher J. Klicka