The Home School Court Report
Vol. XXII
No. 3
Cover
May/June
2006

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MICHIGAN

Truancy Charges a Year too Late

Several years ago, the Johnsons began homeschooling their only child at the urging of the local public school. The son had great difficulty with reading due to a learning disability, and his mother decided that homeschooling would allow him to focus on his reading skills so he could catch up academically. In 2005, Mrs. Johnson enrolled her son in public school in order to obtain additional special needs services. She planned to resume homeschooling in the near future.

In December 2005, Mrs. Johnson learned that the Monroe County School District was charging her with causing the truancy of her child. In addition, Mrs. Johnson was charged with educational neglect on the grounds that her son was academically behind in some areas. The district gave no further explanation. District officials supposedly had evidence that the family had not actually homeschooled the boy the previous year, and the district was now charging the family with truancy-a year after it allegedly occurred!

Incredibly, it turns out that before the truancy charges were filed, the Monroe County Independent School District Multi-Disciplinary Evaluation Team had already determined that the child was in need of special services and that the reason he was lagging academically in some areas was his special needs, not homeschooling or neglect. The team stated that “the discrepancies were not due to lack of instruction in reading or math or English proficiency.” (In fact, the principal of the public school the Johnson child was then attending admitted to the good teaching the boy had received at home.)

After Mrs. Johnson asked Home School Legal Defense Association for assistance, Senior Counsel Christopher J. Klicka contacted the prosecutor and provided him with documentation from various experts verifying that Mrs. Johnson was providing her son with a thorough education. When the prosecutor received this information and Mrs. Johnson's agreement of compliance with the homeschool law, he dismissed the case and the hearing was cancelled.

Mrs. Johnson, disappointed with the teaching of her child in the public school, decided to resume homeschooling. She is now convinced that home instruction is far more effective than the public school special needs program.

— by Christopher J. Klicka