Home School Court Report
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No. 2

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LEA Tries to Add Testing for Homeschoolers

Home School Legal Defense Association has thwarted a local education agency’s (LEA) attempt to impose unauthorized state testing on homeschool students.

An HSLDA member family in Morristown received a letter from the Hamblen County Department of Education advising them that their son in the 8th grade was scheduled to take the Writing Assessment test in February. In response, HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt Black sent a letter to the school official and told her that state law required standardized testing for this student only in grades 5, 7, and 9. Black said that because of this, the family respectfully declined to participate in any additional testing at the public school.

State testing of homeschool students is only required when the family elects to provide notice of homeschooling to the local director of schools under subsection (b) of § 49-6-3050 of Tennessee Code Annotated. The law requires no such testing for students who are receiving home instruction while enrolled in a church-related school.

—by Dewitt T. Black

Truancy Charges Threatened in Nashville

Because their children were being bullied in public school during fall 2011, a Nashville family decided to homeschool the children for the remainder of the school year. Unfortunately, the principal of the elementary school where the children were enrolled refused to acknowledge their withdrawal for homeschooling even after the father met with him and expressed his concern over the school’s failure to protect his children from bullying. To assure the principal that the children remained in compliance with Tennessee’s compulsory attendance law, the church-related school through which the children were being homeschooled sent the public school official an email verifying the children’s enrollment. Despite this, about a week later the family received in the mail from the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools a “Notice of Truancy,” warning them of legal action against them unless their children were returned to school.

After the family sought Home School Legal Defense Association’s assistance, senior counsel Dewitt Black sent a letter to the principal of the elementary school and the chief operations officer of Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, informing them of the family’s right to transfer their children to a homeschool without the permission of public school officials. Black’s letter explained that the children were enrolled in the homeschool program of a church-related school in which the parents were participating as teachers in the school, an educational option expressly recognized by current state law. Black cautioned the public school officials against taking any action that would infringe upon the rights of the parents as guaranteed by the United States Constitution and Tennessee law.

Two weeks later, the family forwarded to HSLDA a copy of a letter they had received from Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, acknowledging their children’s compliance with the compulsory attendance law by enrolling in a homeschool. The threat of truancy charges had disappeared.

—by Dewitt T. Black