The Home School Court Report
Vol. XXIII
No. 6
Cover
November/December
2007

In This Issue

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NATIONAL

Daytime Curfew Update

Case: Los Angeles v. D.B. and others
Filed: 6/27/07

Once again, homeschoolers across the country are facing the threat of daytime curfews. Since the beginning of 2007, city councils in California, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, and Texas have considered such curfews.

Daytime curfews are unnecessary for good order. They are often touted as a way to reduce truancy and juvenile crime, but there is little or no evidence to support this. The impact on law-abiding youth, however, is undisputed: Restricting a young person’s freedom to move about during the day creates an atmosphere of fear reminiscent of totalitarian states, and often leads to harassment of homeschoolers. Homeschooled youth have the most to lose, since they have the most flexible daytime schedules.

The problem is more than hypothetical. Earlier this spring, a 13-year-old homeschooled boy in Los Angeles received a citation while riding his bike between his home and his grandmother’s house a mile away. Even though the boy told the police officer that his school was not in session—which the officer confirmed by calling the mother—the officer packed the boy and his bike into his cruiser, drove him to his grandmother’s house, told him he couldn’t be on the street until 1:30 p.m., and gave him a ticket.

While the case was dismissed by the judge, Home School Legal Defense Association does not believe that homeschooled children should be considered guilty until proven innocent. If you have information about a town, borough, or other government body proposing a daytime curfew, please contact HSLDA’s legal department immediately.

by Nicholas Bolzman

Forewarned is Forearmed

Case: B Family v. Social Security Administration
Filed: 1/3/07

As the homeschooling movement grows, an increasing number of families are running into difficulty receiving benefits for their homeschooled children from the Social Security Administration (SSA). HSLDA’s litigation department has handled numerous cases where the SSA does not recognize a homeschool and denies benefits. One such case is B Family v. Social Security Administration. An Alabama family homeschooling in full compliance with state law was told by local SSA officials that their daughters could not receive benefits because homeschooling was “illegal.” HSLDA has filed an appeal on the family’s behalf.

There are steps our members can take to help avoid receiving that initial rejection letter.

While HSLDA takes a neutral position on Social Security benefits, we realize that many of our members are assisted by such payments. Homeschooling your children has enough challenges without having to navigate the bureaucracy of the SSA. However, if your child is receiving survivor’s benefits, or if you are receiving disability benefits for your child, you may find yourself doing just that.

Once your child turns 18, survivor’s benefits and some disability benefits are terminated unless the child is a full-time student. If your child is receiving such benefits, you will be notified by letter approximately two months before his or her 18th birthday that the benefits are about to cease unless student status is granted. For students enrolled in a public or private school, such status is usually not difficult to demonstrate. For homeschooled children, however, the process can be a little trickier.

The single best step you can take to convince the Social Security office that your homeschooled child is still enrolled in school is to continue to file any required notice of intent to homeschool with your state beyond the compulsory attendance age (if you live in a state that requires filing). Once the SSA sees a family’s record of compliance with the state homeschool law, the administration usually continues the benefits. If you do not live in a state that requires filing, keep good records, especially attendance records. If you are a member and need assistance preparing the paperwork, please call HSLDA.

by Nicholas Bolzman

WEST VIRGINIA

DoD Denies Homeschooler Benefits

Case: D.B. v. Department of Defense
Filed: 9/4/07

In an almost repeat scenario of the Theiss case (see the May/June 2006 and July/August 2007 issues of the Court Report), the legitimacy of homeschooling was again challenged by a federal government agency. Homeschooled student David Bailey (name changed to protect family’s privacy) has been receiving payments from an annuity that his father, a veteran who is now deceased, had set up for him.

Initially, after his father’s death, David encountered no difficulties. He filled out the required paperwork and continued to receive his payments up until his high school graduation, when the payments ceased because he was no longer a student. Shortly after David’s graduation, his mother received a call from the Department of Defense questioning the validity of homeschooling. After submitting a letter from the local school board stating that the Baileys were in compliance with West Virginia law, David and his mother thought the matter was settled.

It was not to be. About a month later, David received a letter from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service claiming that the survivor benefit plan annuity had overpaid him for the period between his 18th birthday and his graduation, and asking to be reimbursed that amount. When she called the office, David’s mother was told that “DoD General Counsel Opinion 97-4” stated that David was not eligible for benefits during the period in question because he had been homeschooled and was not in public school. However, the department refused to provide a copy of any such general counsel opinion. At this point, Mrs. Bailey called HSLDA.

On behalf of our member family, HSLDA contacted the DoD and explained that we recently successfully litigated a very similar case, In the Appeal of George R. Theiss, with the Department of Veterans Affairs. In that case, the court criticized the General Counsel for the Department of Veterans Affairs both for its “narrow” definition of “educational institution” and its failure to present a “rational, comprehensive explanation” for not considering homeschooling an educational institution. As a result, the Department of Veterans Affairs promulgated new regulations that now treat homeschools just like any other school, ending years of discrimination.

HSLDA is working to achieve a similar result with the Bailey case.

by Darren Jones

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Pending Cases

AL B Family v. Social Security Administration

AZ L Family v. Administration for Children, Youth and Families

IA Winkelman v. Dept. of Veterans Affairs

IL H Family v. Social Security Administration

KS T Family v. Social Security Administration

MA State of Massachusetts v. R.P.

WA M Family v. Dept. of Social and Health Services

Pennsylvania RFPA cases

Combs v. Homer-Center School District
Hankin v. Bristol Township School District
Nelson v. Titusville Area School District
Newborn v. Franklin Regional School District
Penn-Trafford School District v. B Family
Prevish v. Norwin School District
Weber v. Dubois Area School District