States in Brief
Last year Illinois, home schoolers weathered the policy of Cook County which prohibited home schoolers from legally operating. The superintendent eventually revoked this policy. Although the Illinois Supreme Court has recognized the right of home schools to operate as private schools, several school districts have attempted to impose requirements not mandated by law.
For example, in Oregon, Illinois, a family was told to fill out extensive forms describing the details of their curriculum and daily schedule, in addition to the routine “Statement of assurance.” An HSLDA family in Cook County was told they must bring in their curriculum for approval. Several other school districts have also tried to insist that home school curriculum be approved even though the Illinois compulsory attendance law does not give local school districts the discretionary authority.
Since the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in People v. Levisen, 90 N.E.2d. 213 (1950), that parents have the burden of showing their good faith efforts to provide adequate instruction in the prescribed branches of learning, HSLDA has counseled many families who have been contacted to respond to inquiries with a subject and days. HSLDA has also guided families on how to amend the “Statement of Assurance” form.
In Indiana, home schools may also legally operate as private schools. However, several school districts have tried to create additional requirements. In Redkey, the school authorities are requiring home visits. In Middlebury, home schoolers have received letters from the school district demanding that they have a curriculum which meets the “instructional time allocation” of the public schools. The school authorities also want the families to schedule a meeting to “approve or disapprove” their curriculum. The school district asserts further that failure to comply will result in the families being turned over to Child Protection Services to the Welfare Department.
In Indianapolis, HSLDA members have received letters demanding that they follow the definition of “equivalent instruction” created by the Marion County Prosecutor. The definition requires that home schoolers submit: 1) student performance objectives; 2) method to achieve objective; 3) schedules for achieving objectives; 4) methods of evaluation and periodic summaries of progress; 5) information on the teacher; and, progress; 6) assurance that each school day is of a reasonable length.
The HSLDA legal staff has counseled or intervened on behalf of the families faced with these arbitrary rules. Under the law, home schools are only required to provide a list of subjects which they are covering, enrollment, and number of days. This information only has to be submitted when requested by the school district.
The state of Kansas has, for the most part, recognized home schools which register as non-accredited private schools. Unfortunately, several school districts refuse to recognize that children in home school are legally “in attendance at school.” As a result, these school districts turn the families over to the Social Rehabilitation Services (SRS) for an investigation.
In Emporia, the Anderson family, after being advised by attorney Chris Klicka, met with SRS. The agent was favorably impressed and wrote up a report closing the investigation. In her report, the agent explained that the Andersons were providing instruction for their children in their home, were registered as a non-accredited school, and we are committed to their children.
In Crawford County, the Smith family was contacted and turned over to the prosecutor discovered that the family was enrolled as a “satellite” of a local non-accredited school and found them in compliance with the law. Families in several other counties have been contacted by their local school district and have responded pursuant to HSLDA’s counsel.
Recently, the Kansas department of Education has been sending a long list of required duties to some HSLDA home schoolers who have registered as non-accredited private schools. The list includes monthly fire and tornado drills, subjection to fire and health inspection, vision testing every two years, required inoculations, and display of American and Kansas flag every day while school is in session. In Chaunte, Kansas, a handout has been distributed by the school administration to all teachers concerning home schooling. It states:
The State Department of Education advised that home schools are not authorized in Kansas… if a student is of compulsory attendance age, that student must be reported as a truant to the S.R.S.
Nonetheless, home schools continue to operate as a private school throughout the state.
Oklahoma’s law requires children to attend “some public, Private, or other school, unless other means of education are provided for the full term of the school of the district are in session.” According to a recent memo distribute by the Oklahoma Department of Education, a parent who is home schooling will be in compliance by documenting the following requirements: 1)maintain school for 180 day; 2) conduct the school six hours per day; 3) follow a definite curriculum; and,4) establish academic progress of the child. According to the memo, a parent is to notify the local public school principal that they are aware of and will comply with the above requirements.
Although the Department of Education would prefer that families report this information, home schools are under no obligation according to the law to initiate the reporting to this information.
In Tulsa, the country superintendent has drafted a “Home School Visitation Report.” The Report demands information on the children enrolled in the home school, the qualifications of the teacher, days and hours of instruction, details concerning annual standardized testing curricular activities.
Home schoolers throughout the state are preparing for a possible crackdown on home schooling or a potential legislative battle. On November 5, 1988, HSLDA attorney Chris Klicka attended a statewide conference to help the home school leaders stategize about how best to respond to report forms from the school district and how to propose legislation.