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

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TEXAS

Homeschooling Family Faces $7,000 Fine

Texas homeschoolers enjoy a friendly legal environment, and many families will never experience a tussle with the courts over their right to homeschool. But as the following report demonstrates, challenges to our freedom do exist—whether it’s through a school official who misunderstands state law, or a neighbor who is suspicious of your family’s reason for homeschooling. We encourage you to stay informed and keep your Home School Legal Defense Association membership current so you can help protect your homeschool.

In January and February 2007, the El Paso Independent School District contacted the McIntyre family twice with questions about the homeschooling of their seven children.

Wary of the school district’s intent, the McIntyres contacted HSLDA for assistance. HSLDA Senior Counsel Christopher Klicka wrote twice to the school district, indicating that our member family was in compliance with Texas law as set forth in the Leeper case (this case declared that homeschools are private schools in the state of Texas). Still, the El Paso school district moved forward and brought criminal charges against the family for “failing to meet homeschool verification requirements.” The district also brought truancy charges against the McIntyres for each child deemed truant.

HSLDA Texas Counsel Tom Sanders had several conference calls with the prosecutor over the following months. During the discussions, the prosecutor told Sanders that he would drop the charges if he could just get an official letter to verify that the family was homeschooling. Sanders argued that Klicka had already written such a letter. Finally, in September 2007, the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case and personally wrote “No convictions” on the charges.

However, the situation resurfaced in October 2007 when the family received a letter from an attorney collecting fines for the county. In a letter to the McIntyres, the attorney wrote, “Our law firm has been hired to represent El Paso County in the collection and disposition of the above listed matter.” He went on to warn the family that they had 10 days to pay over $7,000 in fines that had been levied against four of the seven children!

After many fruitless attempts to contact this attorney by phone, Sanders wrote him a letter explaining that the case had been dismissed.

Sanders then contacted the prosecuting attorney once more, and a formal “motion to dismiss” was filed and signed by the assistant district attorney. In November 2007—10 months after the McIntyres were first contacted by their district—the motion was signed by the county judge, finally and permanently dismissing the case.

We praise God for this victory. The McIntyres continue to homeschool—now without being harassed.

— by Christopher J. Klicka