Across the States
Family vs. Truant Officer
When the Daltons (name changed to protect privacy) decided to withdraw their daughter Emily from public school to educate her at home, they filed a notice of intent as required by Vermont’s homeschool law. They did not expect to receive a visit the very next day from an abrasive and blustery truant officer.
The officer demanded that the Daltons keep their daughter in school until the Vermont Department of Education (VDE) “approved” their homeschooling. He threatened the family with a truancy charge and a $1,000 fine if Emily was not in school the next day.
Contrary to the truant officer’s misperception, Vermont law simply requires parents to file a notice of intent, not to seek VDE’s “approval.”
As members of Home School Legal Defense Association, the Daltons called our legal department and asked whether they had to send Emily back to school. HSLDA Staff Attorney Mike Donnelly immediately faxed a two-page letter to the local public school superintendent explaining that the Daltons were in compliance with the law and cautioning against infringing upon the family’s fundamental right to educate their children at home.
Resistance or reactions from public school officials are, unfortunately, more common when families withdraw children during the school year. Misinformed and misguided officials often need to be firmly reminded what the law says. In the Daltons’ case, HSLDA’s letter to the superintendent was effective and the family has not heard from the school district since.
— by Michael P. Donnelly