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Mr. and Mrs. Jones (name changed to protect privacy) were surprised this fall when they received a visit from a caseworker with the Tippecanoe County Department of Child Services. She informed the family that she was investigating allegations that the children were not in school and that the family didn’t have enough food.*
Mr. and Mrs. Jones explained to the caseworker that they were homeschooling, allowed her to meet their children, and showed her their well-stocked freezer in the garage. Although the caseworker left when the family refused to let her speak with the children alone, she insisted that she needed more information about the children’s education. The caseworker stated that she needed to determine whether the actual instruction being provided was adequate.
While they had already successfully graduated a couple of their children, they wanted some “back up” support and contacted Home School Legal Defense Association for help to defend their homeschool program in this investigation.
HSLDA Staff Attorney Thomas Schmidt wrote a letter to the caseworker clarifying what was required in order to legally homeschool in Indiana. Under state law, parents operating a private homeschool program are to provide instruction that is equivalent to that given in the public schools and must keep attendance records to verify the enrollment and attendance of their child.
Schmidt pointed out to the caseworker that nothing under state law requires parents to prove that their instruction at home is ade-quate. While the department of child services can investigate allegations of educational neglect, the standard of review is “the inability, refusal, or neglect . . . to supply the child with necessary . . . education.”
Since the caseworker had already stated she was content that education was taking place, Schmidt argued that the case had to be closed. Shortly thereafter, she closed the case.
— by Thomas J. Schmidt
* See HSLDA Social Services contact policy.