Home School Court Report
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Vol. XXIV
No. 3
Cover
May/June
2008

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FLORIDA

Homeschooling Family Falsely Accused of Truancy

In November 2007, Putnam County school officials contacted the Jones family concerning their homeschool. They indicated that because of “the children’s pattern of truancy,” the parent responsible for the children’s home education was required to come to the school district office with the children. Furthermore, the school wanted to review the portfolio of the children’s work—even though the family had been homeschooling for only a month—and wanted to start reviewing a portfolio of the children’s work every month thereafter!

Being members of Home School Legal Defense Association, the Jones family contacted HSLDA for help. Senior counsel Christopher Klicka wrote a letter to the attorney for the school district, explaining that the family did not have a pattern of truancy. In fact, the family had homeschooled the previous year without problems. For a short time at the beginning of the 2007–08 school year, Mr. and Mrs. Jones had enrolled their children in a virtual charter school but found it too restrictive of their freedom. So the family had switched back to homeschooling under Florida homeschool law.

In his letter, Klicka further established that under Florida law, the family did not have to let their children be interviewed, nor did they have to come in to the office for a portfolio review. Klicka also cancelled the appointment the school had set up. The school district attorney’s response admitted there was no truancy.

Meanwhile, a school official called Mrs. Jones, demanding she bring her children in for the “first” portfolio review or else the family would be in violation of the law.

Klicka called the school attorney, who relented regarding the need for a meeting at all. Klicka then called the school official and explained the situation. At the school district's request, the family agreed to mail in a portfolio for a “one-time” review over Christmas break. Everything appeared to be resolved.

However, two months later, the school district again contacted the Jones family, criticizing the portfolio they had sent in and announcing that another needed to be created. The district unilaterally set up an appointment for a meeting between the family and school officials.

Klicka wrote back, stating that the district’s action was harassment and that the Joneses’ civil and constitutional rights were being violated. He told the district that no further portfolios would be submitted. The school district finally backed off.

Because of the constant trouble from the school district, the family decided to terminate their homeschool program and is now happily homeschooling under Florida’s private school umbrella option.

— by Christopher J. Klicka