The Home School Court Report
No. 4

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Parents Fight to Homeschool Special Needs Children

Massachusetts parents of special needs children are finding that not only do public school special education programs often fail to meet their children’s needs, but when these parents decide to homeschool, the public school system frequently disputes their competence to decide what is best for their children.

Over the past several months, Home School Legal Defense Association Staff Attorney Michael Donnelly has assisted numerous Massachusetts families in withdrawing their children from an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and opting out of the assessments and services provided by the local school district. While some of these families are now happily providing customized education in a loving environment, some families are still fighting their school districts for the right to do what is best for their children. HSLDA stands ready to support our members in their right to make educational decisions for their children.

Legislature in action

With 6,000 bills to work through, the Massachusetts General Court is debating multiple bills that may affect homeschoolers. Several of these bills address the compulsory attendance age-proposing to raise it from 16 to 18. Another would give homeschooled students the right to take state assessments at the local public school. Other legislation allows homeschooled students the opportunity to receive a public high school diploma. House Bill 416, refiled after being sent to a study last year, would increase the penalty for truancy from $20 to $1,000 and a maximum of 30 days in jail. Because of the way Massachusetts homeschool law works, we are concerned about H.B. 416’s potential impact on homeschoolers and are closely following this measure.

HSLDA continues to monitor all relevant legislation to ensure that homeschooling freedoms are preserved.

— by Michael P. Donnelly