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DPP Threatens Truancy Charges
Layla Wright (name changed to protect family’s privacy), a Home School Legal Defense Association member in St. Tammany Parish, withdrew her children from public school in fall 2006 to teach them at home. After filling out all of the necessary paperwork, she eagerly began her homeschool program.
A few days later, Ms. Wright was visited by a truant officer. She explained to the officer that she was homeschooling her children and had submitted the required paperwork. After an investigation of the home, the truant officer assured Ms. Wright that there were no grounds to suspect truancy or educational neglect and that the file would be closed.
About a month later, however, Ms. Wright was shocked to receive a summons to appear in court to answer charges of truancy. She immediately contacted HSLDA for help.
HSLDA Staff Attorney Thomas Schmidt promptly contacted the truant officer, the clerk of court for the juvenile division, and the juvenile public defender’s office to argue that the truancy charges should be dropped since Ms. Wright was homeschooling in compliance with Louisiana law. He also faxed an explanatory letter to each contact, along with verification of the Wrights' compliance with the law.
After receiving the information, the truant officer agreed to dismiss the charges at Ms. Wright’s hearing, which was scheduled for the following day. Thanks to HSLDA’s intervention and Ms. Wright’s cooperative appearance in court, the charges were indeed dropped the next day. The Wrights have continued to homeschool without any further difficulties.
— by Thomas J. Schmidt