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Districts seek "contracts"

Several Indiana Home School Legal Defense Association member families have forwarded to our office "notice" forms they received from their local school districts. Accompanying letters requested that the families complete and return the forms to the district office.

Using language normally reserved for binding legal documents, such as real estate contracts, these school districts are attempting to require families to sign a contract before exercising their constitutional right to educate their children at home. The forms ask families to "acknowledge and accept" their responsibility, state that the "notice" is "binding" in "full force and effect" for one year only, and even provide a procedure for "dissolving" the "notice." HSLDA is concerned that there may be unforeseen consequences of signing such a "notice," possibly including the waiver of certain important parental rights. Because identical language was used in forms from three different school districts, HSLDA believes these forms come from a common source.

Parents who provide education at home in Indiana are operating private schools pursuant to Indiana Code 20-8.1-3-17 and State v. Peterman, 70 N.E.2d 550 (1904). They are under no obligation to provide "notice" to the school district of their intent to operate a private school. In addition, their right to home educate is not conditioned upon the signing of any "notice" form supplied by the district.

Any member family receiving one of these forms should forward it to HSLDA's office for response to the school district.

- Scott A. Woodruff