The Home School Court Report
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HSLDA legal contacts for November/December 2002



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Recent legal contacts

Homeschoolers have recently encountered a number of aggressive officials across even this "safe" state. Below is a summary of our contacts by category.

Case dismissed
In the small town of Onalaska, two hours north of Houston, the A family withdrew their child from the public school and began to homeschool him, with successful results. Apparently, the school district was not too excited that the family had rejected the local public school in favor of homeschooling. Even though the parents were within their legal right to homeschool, the district served them with a summons to appear in court on truancy charges.

Home School Legal Defense Association Attorney Tom Sanders handled the case. His attempt to get the case dismissed was rebuffed by the prosecutor. A new court date was set, and Sanders asked for a full jury trial. On January 8, one day before the case was to be heard before the judge, the judge called Sanders and indicated that he was dismissing all the charges against the A family.

Two cases pending
The F family in Austin will be going to court for a trial in February. HSLDA Attorney Tom Sanders has tried numerous times to get the case dismissed but the prosecutor insists on going forward.

Meanwhile, the L case in Houston looks like it may be dismissed soon. The L family had withdrawn their daughter and notified the school that they were homeschooling. Nonetheless, the school district slapped the daughter and the mother with charges of contributing to truancy.

Contacts around the state
HSLDA continues to work with families who have received various contacts throughout the state. The most common contact is a "homeschool registration" form sent by a school district to a family. Such forms often exceed the requirements of the Leeper decision and ask for additional information. HSLDA routinely responds to these forms with a letter defending the family's right to homeschool. We urge our members not to fill out any forms the school district provides because they are not required by law. HSLDA recently helped families in Burkburnett, Sugarland, Austin, Lewisville, Flower Mound, Dallas, and other areas.

In Houston, the Child Care Licensing branch of Child Protective Services contacted two homeschooling co-ops, indicating that these programs are violating childcare laws. HSLDA is working with CPS attorneys to clear both co-op programs.

Social services interview averted
Mrs. B has been legally homeschooling her two daughters. One has been treated for seizures and the other is autistic. The Department of Social Services (DSS) filed a complaint and the social worker sought to interview one of the children, but HSLDA intervened and the case was resolved.

CPS presses for interview
A member family is homeschooling a son who has an eye disorder and is under a doctor's care. However, an anonymous tipster called CPS and alleged that the son had not received medical attention for his eyes.

HSLDA discussed the situation with the social worker and gave contact information for the family's doctor to the social worker. Arrangements were even made for the social worker to meet (but not interview) the child.

The social worker insisted that CPS needed to find out how the boy "feels" about his eyes. When HSLDA refused to allow an interview, the social worker threatened to "take the family to court." HSLDA immediately talked to the CPS supervisor who also insisted that court was the next step. HSLDA clearly explained that there was no probable cause of any neglect and therefore no basis for a court case. Within a few weeks, the case was closed.

Christopher J. Klicka

See "HSLDA social services contact policy"