Victory in Pittsfield!
Under state law, home schooling families are not required to meet with school officials. But every year, many school districts in Massachusetts insist that meetings are required before home school plans will be approved.
Pittsfield, Massachusetts, was no exception. At the beginning of this and the previous school year, Pittsfield Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Michael Zapantis wrote several Home School Legal Defense Association member families, telling them that they "must meet" with him before he would approve their home school plan.
HSLDA Attorney Scott Woodruff promptly faxed a letter to Pittsfield on behalf of these families. He pointed out that The Care and Protection of Charles case states that school districts may impose requirements on home school families only if they are "essential" to the state interest in ensuring that "all children shall be educated." A face-to-face meeting with a home school family is simply not essential. All interests of the school district can be satisfied by a written inquiry, which creates a precise, permanent record.
Interim Deputy Superintendent Linda J. Porter, who replaced Zapantis while the issue was pending, notified us that she was no longer requiring a meeting with home schooling families. Those who did not desire to meet with her could simply submit a sampling of curriculum materials for the school district to examine.
HSLDA thanks Marri'ann Dennis and Robert Caprera of Massachusetts Homeschool Organization of Parent Educators for meeting with Ms. Porter. Their assistance significantly contributed to the elimination of this practice.
HSLDA is thankful that the new administration at Pittsfield Public Schools has agreed to comply with the law, and we stand ready to defend any of our member families who experience similar difficulties.
- Scott A. Woodruff