Victory for the Olivers
As Home School Legal Defense Association reported in our September/October 2001 Court Report, Ms. Oliver, the mother of a special needs child, filed a complete notarized affidavit at the same time she withdrew him from the public school last spring. The day after her affidavit was received, a school official called Ms. Oliver to tell her that she had omitted a paragraph. He wanted a statement included to reflect the fact that her son had been identified as a child in need of special education services. He then told her that she need only get the amended affidavit to him within the next week because he would be out of the office on vacation. She mailed it four days later on May 11. The official returned from vacation on May 15 and notified Ms. Oliver by letter dated May 16 that her documentation was complete. However, the public school principal had already filed truancy charges against Ms. Oliver.
In spite of the fact that the additional statement is not required by statute, on June 13, 2001, the court found this mother guilty of violating the compulsory school attendance law from the time of the child's withdrawal (May 5) until the amended affidavit was received by the school district (May 12). She was fined $80 and court costs for the four-day violation.
However, on March 20, 2002, while Ms. Oliver's appeal was pending in the next highest court, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania withdrew the charges, recognizing that the original complaint was, at most, based on technical violations caused by miscommunication of the school officials.
Judge rules against family
A Vermont Department of Education (DOE) administrative judge held on March 19 that parents must disclose the method of screening when providing the required "independent professional evidence of lack of handicap." The T family had submitted HSLDA's recommended form, which the commissioner of education subsequently rejected. HSLDA purposely omitted the method of screening on its form because the state statute requires merely "evidence"--not the method of screening.
Under state law, VDE rulings can be appealed directly to the Vermont Supreme Court. HSLDA is in the process of filing an appeal.