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No. 6

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Berlin Backtracks on State “Requirement”

The Williamsons had been homeschooling for three years when they unexpectedly received a letter from the Berlin Borough School District superintendent that said, “[T]he State of New Jersey requires that you submit a letter to my attention advising me of your decision to home-school . . . annually.” *

This Home School Legal Defense Association member family had never submitted an annual notice before, and they suspected that a complaint from a disgruntled relative may have prompted the superintendent’s troubling request. They asked HSLDA for assistance.

HSLDA Staff Attorney Scott Woodruff wrote to the superintendent, explaining that New Jersey law does not, in fact, require families to send notice to superintendents. Without apologizing or acknowledging that his first letter misrepresented state law, the superintendent wrote back: “I realize the State does not require a parent to notify the school district . . . however, notification is encouraged.”

If he had only meant to “encourage” the filing of a notice, it would have been appropriate to make a courteous request acknowledging that notice is optional, rather than saying the state “required” it.

The Williamsons’ refusal to acquiesce to an unauthorized demand will help protect the freedom of all families in the Berlin district.

— by Scott A. Woodruff

* See "A plethora of forms"