The Home School Court Report
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January / February 2004

Can Judicial Tyranny Be Stopped?

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The difference made by "little things"

Impact of the Widows Curriculum Scholarship Fund

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Attacks on the handicapped

Many homeschooling families have experienced difficulties in dealing with the Vermont Department of Education this year, but those home educating children with special needs have faced some astonishing problems.

The attorney who routinely represents the department of education in homeschool matters announced her intention to "shut down" one homeschool program for an autistic child. After Home School Legal Defense Association mobilized experts to defend the program, the department backed down. Another family received an "incomplete" notice regarding last year's homeschool portfolio. When questioned, department officials said, "The mother could have made all this up." A third family spent months cooperating with the department, agreeing to evaluations, accepting tutoring services, and expressly stating their willingness to accept any other services the department felt necessary. But despite months of good-faith cooperation, the department announced its intention to immediately call a hearing and terminate the program.

Vermont law has not changed, but personnel at the department of education have. Natalie Casco, who had long served homeschoolers from within the department, has taken a leave of absence. It is no coincidence that so many new problems have erupted so quickly. The department has clearly moved from a relationship of trust and respect toward homeschoolers to a new position of mistrust and suspicion. Homeschoolers will need to work together to respond to this unpleasant change.

— Scott W. Somerville