In April of 1987, the Leeper decision brought an end to the torrent of charges being leveled against homeschoolers in the state of Texas. This summer, the court issued a final judgement which confirmed the legality of homeschooling.
This judgement states that a homeschool is a legally operating private school if the school-age children are being instructed by the parent(s) in a bona fide manner using a curriculum consisting of books, workbooks, other written materials, or any combination of the three. The decision also states that the instruction must include the basic subject areas of reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics, and a study of good citizenship (page 10 of the final judgement).
Therefore, if a homeschool meets these requirements, all school districts in Texas are prohibited by the court from initiating any charges against it under § 4.25 of the education code and § 41.03 of the family code.
With all this good news, however, the battles are far from over in Texas. In October the assistant attorney general announced the state board of education will appeal the Leeper decision to the court of appeals. This means the Leeper decision continues to be binding on the school districts unless it is reversed by the court of appeals.
In addition, the HSLDA legal staff reports that some superintendents are attempting to circumvent the holding by sending letters to homeschoolers claiming that since the state has determined the curriculum that must be taught, and since it is the obligation of school officials to enforce the law, all homeschoolers must bring their curriculum to school officials for inspection. However, Judge Murray in the Leeper decision makes it clear that homeschoolers are under no obligation to seek prior approval of their private school, yet that is essentially what some of these superintendents are seeking to force homeschoolers to do. Attorney Chris Klicka has recently sent a letter to all Texas members informing them of the steps to follow in the event they are contacted by the school district.
Other school officials have sent letters to homeschoolers stating that under § 17.64(d) and (f) of the Texas Education Code all private schools (including homeschools) must send a list of their students to the county superintendent. However, HSLDA has been informed by the TEA that the position of county superintendent has been abolished in most school districts, and the TEA has considered this reporting law to be a “dead law” since it has not been used with consistency in the state.
Although we are still very encouraged by the ruling in Leeper, it is uncertain what will happen in Texas as a result of the Leeper decision and the tactics employed by some school officials attempting to circumvent it.