The Home School Court Report
Vol. XXV
No. 4
Cover
July/August
2009

In This Issue

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NATIONAL

HSLDA Working with SSA to Eliminate Discrimination

Case: Re: Social Security Administration

by Nicholas Bolzman

As has been noted in the Court Report several times, and as is evident from the Pending Cases list, Home School Legal Defense Association continues working to ensure that the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not discriminate against homeschoolers in determining benefits. Nationally, SSA has a pro-homeschooling policy in place. However, HSLDA has run into repeated problems at local offices that are unaware of the national policy.

Recently HSLDA Staff Attorney Darren Jones and litigation assistant Nicholas Bolzman, in a conference call with the SSA national office, were reassured that children should not be denied benefits on account of being homeschooled. They discussed steps the national office could take to reduce confusion at local offices. HSLDA encourages any of our members who are having problems with SSA on account of homeschooling to contact our office.

NORTH DAKOTA

California Family Expected to Comply with N. Dakota Law

Case: Stutsman County Social Services v. C Family
Filed: October 17, 2008

by Nicholas Bolzman

While the Carters (name changed to protect privacy) are California residents, Mr. Carter’s job required him to work in North Dakota for several months last fall and winter. Not wanting to be separated so long from his family, he brought them with him.

Somewhere along the line, the Carters were reported to Child Protective Services, and their lack of compliance with North Dakota homeschool law became an issue. CPS would not believe them when they claimed to be homeschooling under California law and insisted that they comply with the much more rigorous North Dakota law.

At this point, the Carters turned to HSLDA for help. After ensuring that they were, in fact, in compliance with California law, HSLDA contacted the CPS attorney and argued that, as residents of California, the Carters were not subject to North Dakota law.

As a result of our intervention, CPS dropped the case against the Carters. They are now able to homeschool in peace.

VERMONT

HSLDA Wins Hearing

Case: In re: ZJ
Filed: February 25, 2008

by Michael P. Donnelly

HSLDA successfully defended the Joneses’ (name changed to protect privacy) home study program in a second hearing called by the state commissioner of education. HSLDA Staff Attorney Michael Donnelly represented the family in both hearings.

A dispute over paperwork and whether or not the Joneses’ son, Zackary, has a learning disability resulted in the first hearing. After three days of testimony, the hearing officer agreed to enroll the Jones children in the family’s homeschool but ordered that Zackary undergo “comprehensive testing to determine whether he was eligible for special education.” The family subjected Zackary to extensive testing—both privately and through the public school. Then, after attempting to reach a settlement with the Vermont Department of Education (DOE), a second hearing was called. After two days of testimony by experts, the hearing officer ordered that Zackary be enrolled in the Joneses’ homeschool program.

The case was complex because of conflicting testimony by experts over whether Zackary has learning disabilities. All agreed, however, that he was somewhat delayed in reading and had difficulty focusing his attention at times. Of course, this is not unlike many typical 8-year-old boys.

“Zackary wasn’t as ready as my other two children to start formal schooling,” observed Mrs. Jones. “My daughter was much more ready, and Zackary’s brother is more ready to start first grade than he was. That is one thing I like about homeschooling—I can teach each one based on their own unique needs.”

However, it was Zackary’s unique needs that resulted in the ordeal that could have ended in a hearing officer denying their right to homeschool him. Vermont’s unusual home study law requires parents who wish to homeschool to prove that each child has no disabilities. A disability can range from being deaf, to having a disease, or having ADHD, like Zackary. Regardless, the parents must submit written adaptations and services, and, if the DOE doesn’t agree with them, a hearing is called. Vermont is the only state that requires parents to submit this form of paperwork.

Pending Cases

AL B Family v. Social Security Administration

AL D Family v. Social Security Administration

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

CA M Family v. County of San Bernardino

NJ Port Jarvis School District v. M Family

NY In re: MD

VT In re: JH

WA F Family v. Department of Veterans Affairs

WA H Family v. Social Security Administration

Pennsylvania RFPA Cases

Combs v. Homer-Center School District
Hankin v. Bristol Township School District
Newborn v. Franklin Regional School District
Weber v. Dubois Area School District


About the author

Nicholas Bolzman is a litigation assistant at HSLDA.