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July / August 2003

Homeschoolers shine at competitions
Ready for the new school year
Farris given prize
The tide turns with the Stumbo decision

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Timeline of the Stumbo case

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Bush signs bill to protect families

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a contrario sensu (on the other hand)

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County attorney goes out of bounds

Evan C. Watson, Deputy County Attorney for Sumner County, went out of bounds recently when he sent a letter to a Home School Legal Defense Association member family asking for numerous private records relating to their homeschool program. He requested "true copies of all records that the family used competent instructors to teach its pupils." He wanted to know the work histories and credentials of the instructors. He also demanded proof that the child's private school complied with the law that sets forth the number of days and hours a public school must be in operation.

Justifying his request for this private information, he wrote that it was his "intention only to ensure that [your son] is obtaining his education as the law requires." Neither a county attorney nor any other official, however, has a duty to "ensure" that any child is obtaining an education. This duty belongs to parents. A county attorney has a responsibility only if there is evidence that a law has been broken.

HSLDA Attorney Scott Woodruff called Evan Watson and asked him what evidence he had that the family was violating the law. Watson replied, "Only that the child is not attending public school." Non-attendance at a public school, of course, is not evidence of a crime. If it were, thousands of Kansas families whose children attend private schools would be subject to investigation.

The United State Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit, recently held in the case of John Doe v. Carla Heck (No. 01-3648, decided April 16, 2003) that it is a violation of one's constitutional rights to be subjected to a coercive child abuse investigation when there is no evidence of abuse. Absent some concrete, specific reason to believe that these Kansas parents have broken the law, they have a right to be free from coercive investigations. HSLDA will take steps to protect this family from an investigation that violates their constitutional rights.

Scott A. Woodruff