The beginning of another school year North Dakota has brought a new set of problems for many home schooling families there. As of as of October31, HSLDA had already seen over a half dozen families threatened with criminal prosecution by their school districts. Most of these new contacts have been the result of acquaintances or neighbors turning in home schooler to their school districts. The problem in this state continues to be its certification requirement for all teachers, including home schoolers. Although Iowa and Michigan also have certification laws on their books, recent concessions have removed the requirement for home schoolers, leaving North Dakota the only state enforcing such a restrictive requirement.
So far this year, three new families face trial on charges of truancy. On November 17, the Nelson family will be tried in the year.
In addition to these new contacts, virtually all of the cases begun last year are still at various stages of court and appeal proceedings The Toman family’s case is now before the North Dakota Supreme Court, and the Van Inwagens have also recently the Van Inwagens’ appeal from State superintendent Sanstead’s decision on the basis that the court no jurisdiction to hear such an appeal. The district court made this ruling despite the fact that the statute calls for remedy from decisions of the State Superintendent’s through the court system, and that the numerous other similar cases decided by or currently before have all followed this same appeal path.
Michael Farris has filed petition with the U.S. Supreme Court. Two of these cases, North Dakota v. Anderson and North Dakota v. Dagley, have been consolidated on appeal, since they involve virtually identical issues. The third case, North Dakota v. Melin, also involves the issues of double jeopardy, since the Melins were originally found not guilty by trial court, and the prosecutor then appealed that verdict. The Supreme Court will decide early this fall whether or not to take theses cases.
In the Anderson/Dagley case, the State of North Dakota has chosen to waive its right to answer the petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, the Court recently directed the State to file an answer, an indication that someone on the Court has taken interest in the case. Please be in prayer that the Supreme Court will look favorably on the issues presented and agree to hear the cases, and that they will subsequently reverse the North Dakota Supreme Court decisions and throw out the teacher certification requirement in North Dakota.
Several states, although generally friendly to home schoolers, have experienced pockets of conflict as superintendents misinterpret their vague compulsory attendance laws.