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No. 2

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DOE discriminates against single parents

April Swift* has joint custody of her child pursuant to a court order in another state. When she moved to Nebraska several years ago, April discovered that state law requires the consent of both parents before a child may be taught at home. In 2005, after much negotiation, the state department of education grudgingly acknowledged April's right to homeschool when the father of her child signed a letter indicating that he was aware of April's intention.

After becoming a member of Home School Legal Defense Association, April contacted a homeschool-friendly legislator, Senator Adrian Smith, to see whether it would be possible to amend Nebraska's homeschool law to protect the rights of single parents and their children. HSLDA wrote the department of education to notify them of this legislative initiative.

On December 21, 2005, the department of education wrote a letter objecting, "When one parent elects to seek exempt school status for a child and the other parent objects to this decision, then the objecting parent is left with no protection to their rights under the law to participate in the education of their child should the Department be authorized to accept an application from a single parent."

The department is clearly prejudiced against home education and sides with the noncustodial parent who objects to homeschooling. No other state gives noncustodial parents this kind of veto power over home education.

Senator Adrian Smith filed legislation that would solve this problem by striking the letter s from the word parents in Nebraska's homeschool law, but his bill failed to pass this time around. HSLDA is committed to working with Nebraska homeschoolers and legislators to solve this problem in the near future.

— by Scott W. Somerville

* Name changed to protect family's privacy.