The Home School Court Report
No. 1

In This Issue

Due to space constraints, Doc’s Digest did not appear in the January/February 2010 issue. Doc’s Digest will resume publication on a new rotating schedule beginning in the March/April issue.

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Department Refuses to Recognize School Hours … Again

Case: T Family v. Montgomery County Department of Job and Family Services
Filed: September 17, 2009

by Nicholas Bolzman

Requests for HSLDA’s help with appeals for reinstatement of county aid denied to homeschooled children are becoming almost as common as requests for assistance with appeals for reinstatement of Social Security benefits denied to homeschooled children. In Ohio, the Montgomery County Department of Job and Family Services has refused to give aid to an otherwise eligible family because it doesn’t like the family’s school hours. Unfortunately, the local departments haven’t yet learned that they cannot deny benefits for homeschoolers based on the schedule of teaching hours.


The saga unfolds like this: the benefits in question are designed to assist needy families with childcare, but families cannot receive the benefits for hours that their children are “in school.” The problem arises because the phrase “in school” is undefined in state law. Although “in school” logically—and legally—refers to the actual hours that the child is receiving instruction, that’s not how the department applies them. They define “in school” as the hours that children are generally in school. Thus, a homeschooling parent who teaches his or her children in the evening is denied the benefits for childcare during the day, not because the child is not being educated, but because he’s not being educated during the time that the department believes he should be.

However, the department has no authority to make such a determination. Not once, but twice, HSLDA has successfully challenged denial of benefits for this very reason.

In this case, HSLDA wrote a letter to the Montgomery County Department of Job and Family Services, explaining that their determination is incorrect and that the benefits should be continued. We also sent along copies of the decisions from the previous cases that we’ve successfully appealed. The most recent decision reads: “It is equally valid to read ‘outside of school hours’ as outside of the hours that the child is attending school. Given that the children in this case are homeschooled around their mother’s work schedule, the mother’s work hours would not be included in the child’s school hours, regardless of whether those hours fall into the 8:00 to 3:00 time frame.”

Unfortunately, Montgomery County declined to reverse its decision. So now it’s on to the next stage in the appeal process. HSLDA hopes that we will be able to get these benefits reinstated for this family, as we have for the others.


SSA Office Applies Wrong Law

Case: K Family v. Social Security Administration
Filed: January 6, 2009

by Darren A. Jones

The Knight family (names changed to protect privacy) in Virginia has been going through a difficult time the last couple of years. Mr. Knight died in 2008, and the local Social Security office told his widow that her 18-year-old homeschooled daughter Kims benefits were going to be cut off because she wasn’t enrolled in school.

When Kim turned 18 in December 2008, she received the standard notice from the Social Security Administration telling her that her benefits would be cut off unless she could establish proof of schooling. She submitted the proper paperwork to her local Social Security office, but it was rejected.

Home School Legal Defense Association first contacted the Social Security Administration on January 6, 2009, appealing its decision to cut off Kim’s benefits. A month later, the local office called HSLDA, seeking more information about the homeschooling program. Later that day, HSLDA Staff Attorney Darren Jones mailed the requested information.

Several months went by. In August, after numerous attempts to contact the office, Jones went in person to the local office and spoke with a Social Security representative who was familiar with the case. It quickly became clear that the Social Security Administration was applying Illinois law rather than Virginia law, because the publisher of the textbooks Kim was using was located in Illinois. Jones pointed out that because Kim was a Virginia student, Virginia law should apply. This cleared up the confusion. After this visit, the Social Security Administration reinstated full benefits to Kim, including the back payments that were due to her from December 2008.

Pending Cases

AL B Family v. Social Security Administration

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

CA L Family v. Social Security Administration

CA M Family v. County of San Bernardino

DC In re: DP

GA In re: JM

IN S Family v. Social Security Administration

NJ Division of Youth and Family Services v. F Family

NM In re: BW

NY In re: JT

PA Commonwealth v. C Family

PA Commonwealth v. K Family

PA Newborn v. Franklin Regional School District

SC Barnwell School District v. T Family

TX K Family v. Social Security Administration

WA F Family v. Department of Veterans Affairs

About the author

Nicholas Bolzman is a litigation assistant at HSLDA.