Michigan in limbo
In Michigan, homeschoolers continue to be suspended in “legal limbo.” In November 1986, the state department of education created new compliance procedures which require a certified teacher to teach all classes in each homeschool. The new procedures also require each homeschool to fill out a “Home School Membership Report” form. HSLDA attorneys advised homeschoolers who received the form to fill it out partially since the state board of education had no authority to pass these procedures. (Last year, the assistant attorney general issued a legal memorandum which stated that the Michigan Department of Education has no authority to promulgate administrative rules regulating homeschooling.) No HSLDA members of nearly 80 that were contacted last year were required to appear before an administrative hearing or taken to court over partially completed forms.
This year, the school districts are again sending the same form out to homeschools which must be returned to the intermediate school districts by November 1. HSLDA is recommending to their members to fill out the form the same way as they did last year and send it back by the deadline.
In addition to the “Home School Membership Report” form, homeschoolers are also receiving a form offering them financial aid from the state. According to the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act (ECIA) of 1981, all private non-profit schools are allowed to participate in the programs if determined as eligible by the state department of education. The amount of funds a homeschool could get is approximately $12.00. HSLDA believes that homeschoolers should disregard this offer because of the “strings attached.”
Meanwhile, Chris Klicka, HSLDA’s executive director, flew out to Michigan to argue on behalf of a homeschool family in Michigan v. DeJonge, No. 12593-4-AR, Circuit Court for the County of Ottawa. Klicka argued several arguments including: 1) The requirement of a teaching certificate burdens the religious beliefs of the DeJonges and mandatory certification is not the least restrictive means of fulfilling the interest of the state that children be educated. 2) The requirement that nonpublic schools be “approved” violates the DeJonges’ due-process right to have a neutral decision maker preside over whether or not they can homeschool. 3) The State never exhausted its administrative remedies dictated by statute, the state superintendent, the attorney general, and the Haines case. Instead of giving the DeJonges an opportunity to be heard at an administrative hearing and appealing to the state board of education, the State charged the DeJonges with criminal truancy. The court has not made a ruling at the time of this printing.
Be praying that the Lord will intervene in this matter and cause Judge Bosman to rule on the side of justice.