Good fences make good neighbors
Whenever possible, Home School Legal Defense Association tries to resolve legal contacts before they ever reach the courtroom. We spend a large part of our time simply "maintaining the fence"-making sure that the boundary line between the public school system and home schooling families is not overgrown and damaged by carelessness or ignorance, or worse yet, deliberately breached. In every contact, we seek to make the boundary-state law-strong and clearly defined.
The Lansing superintendent of public instruction told an HSLDA member family in Allegan County they must fill out a Nonpublic School Registration form. This form is required if a family is home schooling under option (a), but like most home schoolers in Michigan, our member family had chosen to educate under option (f), which has no requirements other than specific subjects that must be taught. HSLDA explained to the superintendent that the family was not obliged to submit the registration form, and they have heard nothing more from the superintendent.
Soon after a member family in the Montcalm Intermediate School District began a home schooling program, a local high school principal inquired whether their son was attending school that year and indicated he would be contacting the school district regarding the son. HSLDA wrote to this principal and explained that the family was conducting a valid home school, meeting all Michigan home school requirements. Under state law, the family is to be presumed to be fulfilling the law unless the school has evidence to the contrary. The family is now home schooling without harassment from the public school.
An Ottawa Intermediate School District truancy coordinator told an HSLDA member family in Coopersville they must "declare" their home schooling status to their local school district in order to avoid truancy proceedings. HSLDA indicated to the coordinator that our member family was already in compliance with all requirements for the operation of a home school and that they were not obliged to notify the district of their intent to home school. This situation was resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.
An Oakland County attendance officer asked a member family in Waterford to fill out a Home School Report Form (not required by the state). HSLDA explained Michigan's home school laws and indicated that the family did not need to submit the report form in order to home school their children. The family has continued their home school program free from additional interruptions.
A public school principal in Sanilac Intermediate School District surprised a new home schooling family with an unexpected phone call. He said that their children had not been in school for this academic year, and that the matter would have to be referred to the county probate court. HSLDA explained that the family had withdrawn their children from the public school system and were now home schooling in compliance with Michigan requirements. Without credible evidence that the family was not complying with home school law, the principal had no legal basis for referring them to juvenile court and the situation was resolved.
- Christopher J. Klicka