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No. 2

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HSLDA Intervenes; False Charges Dismissed

When a homeschooling mother recently received two court summonses for criminal charges of truancy and failure to appear, she called Home School Legal Defense Association for assistance.

Back in spring 2011, Gary and Michelle Shreffler withdrew their son Carson (names changed to protect privacy) from public school to begin homeschooling. At the beginning of this school year, they spoke to the school secretary, who assured them they were operating within the law. What the Shrefflers didn’t know was that the central school district office had mistakenly classified their son as “truant.&rduqo; On top of this, when the prosecutor sent a court summons to Mrs. Shreffler charging her with truancy, he sent it to the wrong address. Because she never received the summons, Mrs. Shreffler missed her hearing and was then also charged with “failure to appear.”

The Shrefflers contacted HSLDA, and we explained that they were homeschooling within their legal rights. We immediately began working with our local Texas counsel, Tom Sanders, to get the case dismissed. Sanders represented Mrs. Shreffler at her initial hearing, providing proof to the court that the summons had been sent to the wrong address and that the school district’s own mistake had prevented Mrs. Shreffler from receiving it. HSLDA also demonstrated that Carson was not truant because he was being homeschooled in accordance with Texas state law, under which homeschools operate as private schools. Despite this proof, the court refused to dismiss either charge and promptly set a trial date.

Meanwhile, the school district discovered its erroneous classification of Carson as truant, and asked the prosecutor to drop the case. The court finally dismissed the case less than two weeks before the trial, just in time for Thanksgiving.

“This was a very scary moment for me and my family,” Gary Shreffler said. “The local Texas counsel, Mr. Sanders, and HSLDA were great! I can’t imagine how things would have turned out without your help. Thank you!”

“HSLDA is proud to be on the front lines defending homeschoolers like the Shrefflers against prosecution,” said HSLDA Litigation Attorney Darren Jones.

—by Darren A. Jones