Attendance officers harass parents
State law requires Mississippi home schooling parents to file a Certificate of Enrollment with their local attendance officer by September 15 of each year. The Certificate of Enrollment form must be prepared by the Mississippi Department of Education's Office of Compulsory School Attendance Enforcement.
Unfortunately, as in years past, local attendance officers have again insisted that parents complete the Certificate of Enrollment in the presence of an attendance officer and include information beyond state law. Families refusing to comply with these unlawful demands have been threatened with prosecution for truancy.
The home school law states that the Certificate of Enrollment form must be "returned" to the school attendance officer. Obviously, state law intends parents to complete this form and return it to the attendance officer's office later. There is no provision stating that parents must complete the form in the attendance officer's presence.
State law requires that this form include, among other things, a "simple description of the type of education the compulsory-school-age child is receiving." Under Mississippi law, the "types" of education are public or nonpublic school-including a private school, church school, parochial school, and home instruction program. Thus, it appears parents should simply indicate on the Certificate of Enrollment that the child is enrolled in a home instruction program. There is no requirement that parents provide a description of the instructional program such as a list of subjects being taught, the titles of textbooks being used, or grade levels of the children.
Home School Legal Defense Association is prepared to defend in court any of our member families facing truancy charges for failure to provide information not required by state law.
- Dewitt T. Black