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De Soto abandons unlawful notice

In January 2002, the De Soto Explorer quoted Joe Hatley, attorney for Unified School District (USD) 232, as saying that the school board should produce a form "to let parents know what is expected of them" when they plan to home school. The article also attributed to Hatley the statement that " . . . students not attending a traditional school within the district would have to be reported to the authorities as truant."

When a Home School Legal Defense Association member family brought this article to our attention, we immediately wrote to the editor, challenging these assertions, and wrote to USD 232, cautioning against such an unlawful policy. Our letter to the editor was published in the Explorer's February 7 edition.

On February 15, Hatley wrote the Explorer saying that the statement that nontraditional students would be reported as truant reflected neither his opinion nor the district's position.

Hatley also replied to HSLDA's cautionary letter to the district. He said the district proposed to require homeschoolers to sign and notarize a form giving notice of "non-attendance for purposes of home schooling" and acknowledging that the district might report children of those who refuse to sign it as truant to the district attorney. The form also required the parents to agree to not hold USD 232 legally liable for the truancy report even if based on an "untrue" report, as long as the district believed the report was made "in good faith."

We responded by explaining why the district should not demand that homeschoolers sign such a form: the law does not require it. Since then, we have received neither any reply from the district nor any report that the district is trying to implement the form. HSLDA believes USD 232 has abandoned its intrusive form, but we will continue to watch vigilantly.

Scott A. Woodruff