Across the States
Family Investigated for Educational Neglect
A Home School Legal Defense Association member family in the Fort Wayne area was recently surprised to see a social services representative at their door.* Identifying himself, the caseworker said that he was there to investigate an allegation of educational neglect. He wanted to interview the children and see all of their records to make sure that they received adequate teaching at home.
With the caseworker still on her doorstep, Mrs. Huggins (name changed to protect privacy) immediately contacted HSLDA. Staff Attorney Thomas Schmidt explained Indiana’s legal requirements for home education to the caseworker. Under Indiana law, parents must keep attendance records and provide instruction equivalent to that given in public schools, but they are not required to submit anything to the state unless requested to by the state superintendent. The caseworker agreed to put his investigation on hold until he received a report on the homeschool program from Mr. and Mrs. Huggins. He then left the home without entering or interviewing the children.
Although not required by state law, Mr. and Mrs. Huggins decided to provide minimal verification of the subjects that they were teaching their children and the number of days that they had schooled so far this year. While Indiana does not require testing of homeschool children, Mr. and Mrs. Huggins had recently tested their children, and they decided to submit that information, as it demonstrated that their children were at or above grade level.
Schmidt wrote a letter on behalf of the Huggins family defending their right to teach their children at home and enclosing the information they were submitting. While the family would be willing to let the caseworker see their children to demonstrate that they were in no danger, Schmidt specified that Mr. and Mrs. Huggins would not allow him to interview their children alone.
After receiving this letter, the caseworker stopped by to see the children and ask them a few mundane questions in front of their parents before leaving. HSLDA expects this case to be closed and the family to be cleared.
— by Thomas J. Schmidt
* See “HSLDA social services contact policy”