|In re A.W.|
HSLDA appeals finding of educational neglect
In February 2002, the Arapahoe County Department of Human Services (DHS) received an anonymous tip that A.W., daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Y, was not registered in school. In response to the tip, a social worker visited the Y residence. The Y family told her that they homeschooled, but they had not yet filed a notice of intent, which is required under Colorado law.
After contacting HSLDA, Mr. and Mrs. Y immediately filed a notice of intent with their school district. Soon after, they received a letter from the social worker, telling them that DHS was putting their names on the Central Registry for educational neglect, because A.W. was not previously registered to be homeschooled.
In response to this letter, the Y family presented DHS with a dozen letters from people who were familiar with them, all attesting that they were providing A.W. with an excellent education. At the advice of HSLDA, they also offered to provide DHS with other evidence confirming that education was taking place. But DHS refused to review or consider all of this evidence. According to the social worker, when making a finding of educational neglect, "it does not matter whether or not the child is being educated but simply whether [the parents] have filed the piece of paper."
HSLDA has appealed this decision to the Central Registry, which is reviewing the file and evidence collected by DHS. While the Y's failure to file a notice of intent may have technically violated the homeschool statute, the definition of educational neglect is failure to provide a child with a proper or necessary education. There was no evidence that A.W. was not receiving a necessary or proper education to constitute neglect; only that the Y's failed to file their notice of intent. Please pray for a prompt decision not to place the Y family on the registry as guilty of child neglect.
|Goulart & Travers v. Meadows, et al.|
HSLDA appeals decision
On August 26, 2002, Home School Legal Defense Association filed an appeal from a United States District Court decision that community centers in Calvert County, Maryland, can keep out homeschool groups. The court handed down its opinion on August 20, 2002, nearly 10 months after oral argument last October.
Homeschool mothers Kyle Travers and Lydia Goulart wanted to start a weekly fiber arts class and a geography club for homeschoolers. When they applied to use the community centers, Calvert County denied them, even though the facilities were sitting empty during the requested times. The county reasoned that because public funds were operating the county's public schools, the public would be double-paying for education if it allowed private educators to use community centers, which are also publicly funded, for elementary or secondary education.
"The county's policy is bizarre," declared HSLDA General Counsel Mike Farris during oral argument. "No other county in the nation has a policy refusing to permit homeschoolers to use a vacant facility otherwise open to the general public."
HSLDA contended that the county could not discriminate against Mrs. Travers and Mrs. Goulart simply because they were exercising their constitutional right to choose home education over public education.
In its opinion, the U.S. District Court upheld the county's policy, ruling that the U.S. Constitution did not prevent the county from discriminating against homeschoolers, nor did instruction of neutral subjects such as fiber arts or geography warrant First Amendment speech protection. HSLDA has appealed the decision to the next level, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
|In re J.B.|
Family allowed to continue homeschooling
Mr. and Mrs. B had been homeschooling their son J.B. for several years before the Missouri Division of Family Services (DFS) became involved in their lives. After a court case that traveled all the way up to the Missouri Supreme Court, DFS forced Mr. and Mrs. B to put J.B. into public school, claiming that his special education needs could be met better there. Following the most recent court victory, however, the Bs have now resumed homeschooling.
DFS brought a petition against the B family in December 1999, saying that it was concerned about J.B.'s education because he has several special needs, including severe developmental problems and autism. Home School Legal Defense Association has represented Mr. and Mrs. B since that time, assisting them in dealing with DFS and the court system.
In a compromise reached in November 2000, Mr. and Mrs. B agreed to send their son to public school in exchange for minimal DFS intrusion into their home. During this time, however, Mrs. B continued to teaching J.B. at home as well.
At a review hearing on August 20, HSLDA argued that the B family had cooperated with DFS and should be allowed to homeschool again. Dr. Steven Duvall, a school psychologist from Kansas who has assisted HSLDA in the past, evaluated the B's proposed homeschool program and told the court that Mrs. B was fully capable of teaching her son and recommended that she should be allowed to do so.
The guardian ad litem, who is responsible for representing J.B.'s best interests, vigorously opposed the homeschooling, because he believed that J.B. should be enrolled full-time in public school.
After carefully examining Dr. Duvall's report and recommendations, the judge ruled that J.B. can be homeschooled from September 2002 through January 2003, at which time he will review the program.
"We are very thankful that God has given this victory," said HSLDA Attorney Darren Jones, "and we look forward to the time when Mr. and Mrs. B can finally teach their son without the state peering over their shoulder."