Across the States
Father Claims Child is Truant
April Swift,* a Home School Legal Defense Association member since 2005, never married the father of her child, but has joint custody pursuant to a court order in another state. When she moved to Nebraska in 2004, she ran into problems with Nebraska’s homeschool paperwork. The father of her child refused to take an oath that he objected to government control of his child’s schooling (which is required by Nebraska’s Form A). The Nebraska Department of Education (DOE) grudgingly permitted April to homeschool after the child’s father signed a letter indicating that he was aware of the home education program.
In 2005, the child’s father refused to provide even that much cooperation. The DOE told April that, according to Nebraska law, they would have to refer April for prosecution unless the child’s father provided a statement approving the homeschool program. Senator Adrian Smith sponsored legislation to fix the problem, but the DOE opposed it. Despite the lack of a legislative solution, April was still able to teach her child at home.
This year, the child’s father raised the stakes. He wrote the DOE to say, “I consider [the child] to be truant in violation of said law. By copy of this letter to [the child’s] mother, the [school district] and the [local school], I expect the appropriate authorities to ensure that [the child] is immediately enrolled in an approved and accredited Nebraska school and provide me evidence of such enrollment.”
Single parents across America face extra challenges in homeschooling—but state law should not make it a crime for one parent to disagree with the other over their child’s education. HSLDA continues to work with April and other Nebraska homeschoolers to fix this problem in the law.
— by Scott W. Somerville
* Name changed to protect family’s privacy.