Across the States
Department of Public Safety Apologizes for Unfair Treatment
When a Home School Legal Defense Association member took her 17-year-old son to the local branch of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to renew his driver license, she submitted the required Verification of Enrollment (VOE) form with her signature. The form, required for any driver under age 18, verifies that the student is enrolled in school and is maintaining good attendance.
In most cases, the Texas DPS offices accept parent-signed VOE forms from homeschoolers, but this clerk did not, claiming that a new policy required homeschoolers to submit attendance records, a report card, or curriculum to prove that they were homeschooled. The mother responded that in Texas, homeschools have the same legal status as private schools, and that if private schools are not required to submit additional documentation, her homeschool should not be. The clerk insisted that the policy applied to all homeschooled students, and suggested that the family return with their textbooks as proof of the son’s school attendance.
After driving home to retrieve her son’s curriculum, the mother returned to the DPS office where she and her son were met by a different clerk. They presented the VOE form to the new clerk, who consulted a coworker when she realized that the son was homeschooled. Instructed to request curriculum, the clerk simply glanced at the one math book the mother presented. The clerk did not open the book or document it in any way, but did renew the boy’s license.
Ironically, the family knew a private school student the same age as their son who had visited the same DPS branch to renew his license. When he presented the VOE form, signed by his school administrators, the DPS office immediately issued his renewed license with no requests for additional documentation.
The family called HSLDA to report the discrimination, and HSLDA Texas Attorney Tom Sanders wrote a letter to the local DPS office as well as the state-level office to address the problem. The assistant manager of the Texas DPS Driver License Division quickly responded with an apology for the family’s unfair treatment. In his letter, he confirmed that homeschooling families need only submit a completed VOE and explained that the incident was due to a misinterpretation of previous instructions to the local office. He assured HSLDA that he had advised the local DPS staff of the correct procedures for homeschooled students.
HSLDA appreciates the assistant manager’s prompt correction of the problem, as well as the family’s prompt action in reporting the situation to us.
— by Darren A. Jones