The Home School Court Report
Vol. XXII
No. 2
Cover
March/April
2006

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MASSACHUSETTS

Is homeschooling neglect?

Massachusetts is one of two states that still require "approval in advance" before a family may educate a child at home. Each year, Home School Legal Defense Association serves a long list of families who begin homeschooling while waiting for their district to "approve" their program. Sometimes, this results in educational neglect investigations by Child Protective Services, but these situations are normally resolved as soon as the school "approves" the homeschool.

In 2005, HSLDA successfully reversed one such wrongful educational neglect finding concerning a member family, even though we had to wait two years for the government to hold the "fair hearing" in which the matter was reconsidered. Within 48 hours of the hearing, the Springfield branch of the Massachusetts Department of Social Services (DSS) ruled that an approved homeschool could not be guilty of "educational neglect" even though the family started teaching before final approval was received.

Now Cambridge has its own test case. The Monahans,* an HSLDA member family, were reported for educational neglect just days before their homeschool program was approved. Despite the official approval paperwork from the school, DSS is insisting that the Monahans comply with home visits and other unnecessary "proofs of education." HSLDA takes a strong position against any such unlawful demands, and will be assisting this family with their fair hearing request.

— by Scott W. Somerville

* Name changed to protect family's privacy.