The Home School Court Report
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Rhode Island
Eleven families denied right to home school

Even though Rhode Island recognizes home schooling as a constitutional right, the law requires families who want to exercise this right to apply to the district school committee each year for approval. In many cases, this is merely a formality: the parents give the committee information about their home schooling program and usually receive "rubber-stamped" approval.

However, East Providence School District suddenly started rejecting these applications without explanation. Following a recent school committee meeting, 11 out of 14 families were refused approval to home school. One family had to bend over backwards to meet school district demands, including putting one child into public school, before they were approved.

Jacqueline B. Forbes, Director of Elementary Education at East Providence School District, sent written denials to several Home School Legal Defense Association member families. In one case,

she requested additional information after receiving a member family's notice of intent form. Although the family immediately acquiesced, she still sent an unjustified denial.

On behalf of our members, HSLDA Attorney Scott Woodruff promptly faxed a letter to Dr. Forbes, seeking an explanation for the denials. Dr. Forbes responded that the families had been denied "because of an incomplete application process."

Woodruff then faxed a letter to Dr. Taras Herbowy, Superintendent of Schools, warning him that East Providence was in violation of the Rhode Island home school statute and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. He urged Dr. Herbowy to recommend that the school committee reconsider their serious mistake and not take any action of enforcement until this matter is settled.

HSLDA has also asked our member families in East Providence to call the superintendent and each member on the school committee, expressing dismay and concern over these unlawful and unjustified denials.

- Scott A. Woodruff