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Truant Officer Threatens Court Action
For the past two years, Illinois teenager Margaret Byrum (name changed to protect privacy) has struggled with chronic illnesses, which have caused multiple absences from public school. To accommodate Margaret’s health needs while ensuring that she receives a good education, Margaret’s parents decided to homeschool her. Following proper procedure, the family submitted a letter of withdrawal to the school’s principal and began teaching their daughter at home.
However, the DeKalb County truant officer began repeatedly calling the family, threatening legal action. She had been tracking Margaret’s absences for the past two years and continued to harass the family about them, despite the fact that Margaret’s parents had obtained doctor’s excuses for nearly every one. The officer also demanded that the family obtain school district approval to homeschool Margaret or risk being summoned to court. She then referred the situation to the assistant superintendent.
Members of Home School Legal Defense Association, Margaret’s family contacted our legal department. HSLDA Senior Counsel Christopher Klicka wrote the assistant superintendent and truant officer, explaining that Illinois law does not require parents to obtain approval to homeschool, nor does it require notification that a parent is homeschooling. He verified that Margaret’s family is in full compliance with Illinois’ legal requirements and demanded that the truant officer cease harassing the family.
As this issue of the Court Report goes to press, the family has not heard back from any school official.
— by Christopher J. Klicka