The Home School Court Report
No. 5

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Virtual Schools not Virtual Enough

The Wyler family (name and some details changed to protect family’s privacy) decided to homeschool their eight children after some of their children were bullied, one even being stabbed, in the Cleveland public schools.

After homeschooling for a few years, the family decided to try an Ohio virtual public school. They thought it would be easier and simpler than homeschooling since all virtual school materials were provided at no cost. Because they would still be doing school “at home,” the family didn’t think much about the fact that they were re-enrolling in the public school system.

It wasn’t long, however, before the Wylers realized that while they were still able to shield their children from negative peer influence, they had to toe the line regarding school schedules and work assignments. The flexibility they had enjoyed while privately homeschooling was gone. For example, teacher/monitors called the Wylers when their children weren’t logging into the virtual classroom often enough or at the right times. When assignments weren’t completed on a “timely basis” for grading, more phone calls came in, reprimanding the family. The Wylers began to realize that one of the benefits of homeschooling over virtual schools is being able to direct the curriculum for each child and incorporate schooling into the family schedule instead of always arranging the family schedule around a school’s schedule.

When the Wylers decided to withdraw from the virtual program and go back to homeschooling, the virtual school threatened to bring truancy charges against the family. Working with Home School Legal Defense Association Staff Attorney Michael Donnelly, our member family was able to navigate the withdrawal process without further dispute from the virtual school.

HSLDA believes that homeschooling is characterized mainly by parent-directed education that takes place under the primary supervision and direction of parents or another appropriate person designated by the parents. Virtual public schools may offer the benefit of free school materials and support, but these government benefits also curtail a family’s freedom from governmental involvement.

— by Michael P. Donnelly