The Home School Court Report
No. 2

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Attendance officer retracts jail threat

After the Macomb Intermediate School Districtdisregarded a petition by the Lewis* family to accommodate their son's health problems, the family started homeschooling in October 2005.

In December, the school district informed the family that they were in violation of the Compulsory School Attendance Act. Citing the offense as a failure to have the Lewis child attend school, the district scheduled a "school conference" between the family and the attendance officer. Ms. Lewis was told that failure to attend the school conference could lead to court action or even incarceration.

The Lewises, who are Home School Legal Defense Association members, contacted us for help. Senior Counsel Christopher Klicka immediately sent a letter to the school to inform them that the family was in full compliance with the compulsory attendance law by providing an education for their child at home. Klicka pointed out discrepancies in the school's stipulations: First, the "school conference" which was demanded is not required by law. Second, the family was in full compliance with the law by homeschooling. Thus, Macomb's threats of court action and incarceration were unjustified.

Recognizing her mistakes, the attendance officer called Klicka, agreed to cancel the scheduled school conference, and dropped all truancy charges against the Lewis family.

Wayne County makes unusual demand

A member family recently started homeschooling after withdrawing their children from the West Village Academy, a public charter school in Wayne County. The family provided the school with a written notice that the children were being withdrawn and would be homeschooled. However, the school did not accept the written withdrawal and told the mother that until the daughter's records were requested, the school would consider the daughter truant. The family contacted HSLDA, and then proceeded to obtain their curriculum and start homeschooling. Meanwhile, HSLDA Senior Counsel Christopher J. Klicka sent a letter to the school, explaining the law and demanding that the school stop any truancy proceeding. Klicka instructed the school that under Michigan's option (f), a homeschooling family is not required to request a student's records. A school threatening truancy based upon this non-requirement seems to be harassment.

Thankfully, the family is continuing to homeschool and has had no further contact from either the school or truancy officers.

Montcalm sends unauthorized inquiry

The Montcalm Area School District sent a "Home Schooling Inquiry" letter to two new HSLDA member families who had withdrawn their children from public school. The letter outlined Michigan homeschool law and emphasized that the families were to return a "Declaration of Homeschooling" statement within five days.

The new homeschooling families were unsure what to do with the paperwork. They notified HSLDA of the school's memo, and Senior Counsel Christopher J. Klicka responded by sending a letter to the school. Though we recommend that new homeschooling families send a letter of withdrawal to their former school when they are withdrawing a child, this is done as a courtesy and is not mandated by Michigan law. In his letter, Klicka outlined the history of homeschooling in Michigan and reminded the school that a "Declaration of Homeschooling" is not required. The families have not had any further contact from the district.

by Christopher J. Klicka

* Name changed to protect family's privacy.