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Citation for Lost Paperwork

This past winter, a homeschool family in the Linn Benton Lincoln (LBL) Education Service District was shocked to receive a compulsory attendance citation and complaint. The Buteo family (name changed to protect privacy) had been homeschooling in LBL for several years in compliance with Oregon law. However, the citation stated that one of their children had been absent for a total of 72 days and placed bail at $195. Mrs. Buteo quickly contacted Home School Legal Defense Association for help.

After HSLDA Staff Attorney Thomas Schmidt examined the citation and other documents the Buteos provided, it was evident that LBL had placed one of the children in the wrong grade. While the family’s notice had stated the child would be in 7th grade that academic year, LBL had placed her in 6th grade based on her date of birth.

Oregon law requires testing in grades 3, 5, 8, and 10. This testing must occur by August 15 in the 3rd, 5th, 8th, and 10th year. According to Oregon Administrative Rules § 581-021-0026(6), the first year is defined as “when a child is seven on September 1, or earlier at the parent’s discretion” (emphasis added). Thus, it was legal for Mrs. Buteo to place her child in 7th grade when she began homeschooling in 2006. In fact, the child had completed 6th grade the year before in a local public school.

Mrs. Buteo had tested her child at the end of 8th grade and submitted the results after the 2007–08 school year. However, LBL misplaced those results. When the education service district did not properly file the 8th-grade results after the 2008–09 school year, it removed the child from the home education program and began to treat her as a truant.

Before receiving the citation, the Buteos had been contacted by LBL earlier in the school year and had sent the district a second copy of the test results. Mrs. Buteo had assumed the situation was resolved until she received the citation.

HSLDA Litigation Attorney Darren Jones contacted LBL on behalf of Mrs. Buteo and submitted the test results for a third time. This time, the education service district corrected its mistake and promptly withdrew the citation.

— by Thomas J. Schmidt