Across the States
Superintendent Demands Notice of Intent
A Northwest Kansas public school superintendent wrote to Home School Legal Defense Association members Peter and Beth Rist (names changed to protect privacy), “It is our understanding that
you are homeschooling your children or child. Please verify your intent to home school
... by sending a letter to the Superintendent’s office indicating the names and ages of the child or children ... "
The Rists immediately contacted HSLDA. We wrote the superintendent on their behalf, explaining that no other Kansas school district asks private school students to file a notice of intent, and asking her whether she knew of any law requiring it. Our letter also confirmed that the family’s small private school was registered in compliance with state law. (Homeschools operate as private schools in Kansas.)
The superintendent replied: “If your clients would prefer for us to contact the county officials, that is within their right and we will do so. If not, we ask for a simple letter of intent to homeschool their child(ren). Please advise me on the course of action that they prefer.”
HSLDA replied reminding the superintendent that the family’s school was registered with the state, and that she had no enforcement duty unless she had evidence the children were attending no school at all. Furthermore, a notice of intent could not possibly make a child any less truant under Kansas law.
Our reply mentioned that ethical imperatives require that prosecution against a family be initiated only when there is evidence (“probable cause”) that they have violated the law—which was not present in this case. Finally, our letter pointed out that the 2008–09 Kansas legislature enacted a law (House Bill 2197) giving homeschoolers by-right admission to Kansas Board of Regents schools—a powerful display of support for homeschooling.
The superintendent never responded. And she never carried out her threat against the family.
—by Scott A. Woodruff