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No. 2

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Going on the Offense: HSLDA Sues Athletic Association

Case: B Family v. Florida High School Athletic Association
Filed: January 13, 2010

by Nicholas Bolzman

On January 13, 2010, Home School Legal Defense Association sued the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) because of its unjustified refusal to allow a homeschool student to play sports for a private school.

In 1997, the Florida legislature passed the Craig Dickinson Act. This provision, which allows homeschoolers to participate in the sports programs of public schools and accommodating private schools, is best known for assisting to launch the career of well-known quarterback Tim Tebow. In addition to Tebow, many other homeschoolers across the state have benefited from this statute.

Last fall, however, one HSLDA member family ran into difficulty when the FHSAA prevented their son from playing on the rationale that he had been recruited to play for his local private school. Yet in the same meeting, the board approved the eligibility of other students in identical circumstances who were not homeschooled.

For the past several years, Caleb Brown (name changed to protect privacy), a homeschooled student, has played soccer with a local private school. He has also played on a club team over the summer. When the private school discontinued its soccer program, he moved to a second local private school. However, because the summer program’s director is also the coach at the second school, Caleb, along with three other summer club players, needed to obtain a waiver from the FHSAA to be considered eligible. Two of those students enrolled full-time in the private school, while Caleb and the other student continued being homeschooled, wanting to participate only in the soccer program.

The FHSAA executive director denied the waiver for the four boys to play on the soccer team, and the private school appealed the decision to the FHSAA Sectional Appeals Committee. On appeal, the committee approved the waivers for Caleb and the other homeschooled student, as well as for one of the students who enrolled in the private school. Not happy with being overruled, the executive director appealed this decision to the FHSAA Board of Directors, which heard all four cases last November.

At that meeting, the FHSAA approved waivers for the two students who enrolled in the private school, but denied the waivers for the two who remained homeschooled. The circumstances and evidence for recruiting is identical in all four cases, and the only distinguishing feature between the students who obtained waivers and those who did not is homeschooling. During the hearing, at least one member of the board confirmed that homeschooling was the distinguishing feature.

The Brown family contacted HSLDA about their denial, and we attempted to discuss the situation with the FHSAA. However, the FHSAA refused to reconsider or alter its decision. HSLDA therefore filed a complaint on Caleb’s behalf.


Family Arrested over Late Paperwork

Case: New York v. C Family
Filed: December 30, 2009

by Nicholas Bolzman

In a case that made national headlines, a New York family was arrested and charged with child endangerment for failing to register their homeschool—a problem that they had fixed a week before their arrest.

Social services first visited Richard and Margie Cressy in November 2009 and informed the family that they were out of compliance with New York homeschool law. As soon as this discovery was made, the Cressys submitted the necessary notification. The school district approved this submission, indicating that the substance of the Cressys’ educational program was in compliance with New York law.

In the meantime, social services had turned the case over to the sheriff’s department. On December 30, 2009, the Cressys were asked to come to the sheriff’s office, where they were arrested and booked for child endangerment.

HSLDA is working with the family and will represent them at their upcoming trial.

Pending Cases

AL B Family v. Social Security Administration

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

CA L Family v. Social Security Administration

CA M Family v. County of San Bernardino

CA S Family v. County of Los Angeles

DC In re: DP

GA In re: JM

HI A Family v. Department of Veterans Affairs

IN S Family v. Social Security Administration

KS In re: A & CC

NJ Division of Youth & Family Services v. F Family

NM In re: BW

OH Ohio v. V Family

OH T Family v. Montgomery County Department of Job & Family Services

PA Newborn v. Franklin Regional School District

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.