The Home School Court Report
VOLUME XIX, NUMBER 1
- disclaimer -
JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2003


FEATURES

State organizations: Making our voices heard

Illinois homeschoolers facing the heat

DEPARTMENTS
Along the way

The curtain rises on HSLDA

Looking toward the future
From the heart
Across the states
About Campus
Active Cases
Around the globe
President's page

The impact of a father's involvement

Practical ways that husbands can help their wives

ET AL.

Prayer & Praise

a contrario sensu (on the other hand)

HSLDA legal contacts for September/October 2002



  LITIGATION SUMMARIES  



ACTIVE CASES

KENTUCKY

SSA recognizes homeschools for benefits

Case: Mrs. W. v. Social Security Administration
Filed: 9/16/02
In September 2002, the Social Security Administration cut off Mrs. W's disability benefits for her 18-year-old son Andrew, solely because she is homeschooling him.

Under Social Security Administration (SSA) regulations, a child may continue to receive benefits after turning 18 so long as he is being educated in accordance with his state's compulsory attendance laws, including any homeschool requirements. Mrs. W has always fully complied with Kentucky law, which allows parents to homeschool as a private school with minimal paperwork. Despite her compliance with the law, the SSA erroneously cut off benefits on the ground that Mrs. W's homeschool was not "accredited," a bogus "requirement" not found in either SSA regulations or Kentucky's homeschooling requirements.

On September 16, 2002, the W's filed an appeal of the SSA's decision to terminate benefits. The SSA official assigned to the case stated that although several homeschooling claims had been assigned to her in the past, she had never approved benefits for a homeschooler.

This time, however, Home School Legal Defense Association persuaded her that even though a homeschool is not accredited, its students are eligible to receive SSA benefits under SSA regulations. The SSA reversed itself and reinstated the W family's benefits.

OHIO

District takes issue with early graduation

Case: M.J. v. State
Filed: 9/11/02
Because Mr. and Mrs. J had just graduated their 17-year-old daughter, M.J., and given her a high school diploma in Spring 2002, they were shocked to receive a summons in early September to appear for an informal hearing on truancy charges.

Ohio law requires children between the ages of 6 and 18 to attend school until graduation from high school, but the local school district arbitrarily refused to recognize M.J.'s graduation as valid. HSLDA contends that homeschool parents, who act as supervisors and principals of their independent homeschools, have the authority to graduate and issue diplomas to their own students. HSLDA contacted several school officials on the family's behalf, arguing that Mr. and Mrs. J had authority to grant their daughter a diploma.

At the informal hearing, the hearing officer sided with HSLDA's position, agreeing to dismiss the case after Mr. and Mrs. J wrote a letter to the superintendent stating that M.J. had completed her high school education through their homeschool. This case marks a victory, reinforcing homeschooling parents' authority to graduate their own students.

PENNSYLVANIA

Family denied civil service benefits

Case: Mrs. L. v. Office of Personnel Management
Filed: 4/11/00
When Mrs. L's husband died, she and her son began receiving death benefits from the government because of Mr. L's former government employment. These benefits gave her enough income to stay at home and homeschool her son and were to continue until her son graduated from high school or turned 18, whichever occurred later.

However, when her son turned 18, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) cut off the benefits, even though he was still enrolled as a homeschooler under Ohio law. OPM claimed that he was not enrolled in an accredited educational institution recognized by federal law.

The decision conflicts with previous policy stated in a letter regarding a similar program from OPM Director Kay Coles James to HSLDA. James's letter stated that the term "accredited high school" includes a homeschool that is in compliance with state law.

HSLDA is appealing the OPM's initial denial of Mrs. L's request for reconsideration.