During the 1987–88 school year, the Ehmann family, due to religious convictions, began home schooling their handicapped child. The Philadelphia school district contacted them and demanded that they attend a due process hearing pursuant to the Education of the Handicapped Act. Attorney Chris Klicka objected to the hearing because the federal act has no jurisdiction over the Ehmanns since they refused all state and federal funding.
Klicka submitted a motion to dismiss on these jurisdictional grounds to the EHA hearing officer. The hearing officer denied the motion stating the superintendent had the discretion under Pennsylvania's law to impose the EHA regulations. He then scheduled a hearing to determine what type of education he thought would be best for the Ehmanns' child. Klicka advised the family not to attend, since the EHA has no jurisdiction over a family who does not receive government funding.
On June 20, 1988, the hearing officer condemned home schooling and demanded the child be enrolled in a public school program for the handicapped. Klicka then appealed the Ehmann case to the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education. He prepared an extensive brief with citations and evidence demonstrating the EHA's lack of jurisdiction. During this whole time, the family continued to home school with great success.
Finally, on June 5, 1989, the Secretary of Education, Thomas Gilhool ruled in favor of the Ehmanns. He ordered and decreed that the findings of fact, conclusions of law, and the order of the hearing officer are rejected and vacated. He stated that since the parents are home schooling they are under the compulsory attendance law (and the new home school requirements) and that the parents should proceed under the statute rather than the EHA procedures.
We thank God for this victory which gives the home school parents of a handicapped child the same rights as all other home schoolers.