Home School Court Report
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November / December 2005

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Warrick wants homeschools to "report"

The Warrick County School Corporation recently published an announcement in the Evansville Courier that stated, "Parents providing educational programs for school-age children in a home are required to report the program to the school corporation."

This is incorrect. Families who educate their children in a home-based private school are not required to report this fact to the local public schools.

Home School Legal Defense Association contacted Warrick County School Corporation and explained the problem. The staff member responsible immediately acknowledged the error. At our request, the school corporation agreed to publish a correction.

Indy Star goofs on law

On August 23, the Indianapolis Star reported, "Parents who wish to home-school their children must report their enrollment with the Department of Education and notify the school's principal in writing."

HSLDA immediately called the bureau chief of the newspaper to clarify that parents are only required to report homeschool enrollment if the state superintendent specifically requests it, and are never required to notify a local principal. He acknowledged we were correct.

We followed up by sending a letter to the Star correctly explaining the law and requested that the newspaper print the letter in order to set the record straight.

Shelbyville backs down

At the end of the last school year, the Wallace family* told the staff at Shelbyville High School they would begin homeschooling their son in the fall of 2005. As the new school year began, however, a staff member told them he would turn them in to social services unless they agreed to meet with the principal and sign a withdrawal form.

Since the Wallaces did not remember the name of the staff member who told them this, HSLDA Attorney Scott Woodruff called the Shelbyville principal. He denied that his school had a policy of reporting homeschool families to social services if they refused to meet with him or sign a withdrawal form, and dismissed the idea of any member of his staff saying otherwise.

The Wallaces then followed up with the principal's administrative assistant. She said the family would not have to meet with the principal, but would have to sign a withdrawal form. She did not say what the consequences would be if the family refused to sign the form.

However, when Scott Woodruff called the same assistant to get a copy of the withdrawal form for him to review on behalf of the Wallaces, the assistant said the family would not need to fill out the form after all!

Confusion within the school's administration may be at the root of what certainly appears to be four conflicting policy positions. Woodruff sent a letter to the principal to prevent a repetition of this unfortunate scenario.

Homeschooling families are not required to meet with the principal or sign any particular form when they withdraw a student from public school in order to provide private education at home in Indiana. However, sending a very brief letter telling school officials your child is going to be privately educated is advisable to minimize the likelihood of misunderstandings.

— by Scott A. Woodruff

* Name changed to protect family's privacy.