Kansas Home Schoolers Survive Another Year
In Kansas, most home schools operate as private schools and formally register as a “non-accredited private school” with the State Board of Education. There is no statutory requirement that they notify the local school district.
Unfortunately, the home school cases decided by the Kansas Supreme Court in the past have ruled against home schoolers, making the legal status of home schooling a little shaky. HSLDA, nonetheless, continues to argue that a family can establish a non-accredited private school in their home and teach only their own children. Several lower court cases handled by HSLDA and others have upheld the home schoolers&’ rights to operate as private schools. As a result, most school districts reluctantly recognize home schools as legitimate.
Each year, however, some superintendents challenge home schoolers and generally turn them over to the SRS (Social Rehabilitation Services). In Emporia, two HSLDA families were investigated by the SRS. After being advised by the HSLDA legal staff, the families met with the SRS agent who eventually decided to recommend closing the cases, being convinced of the legality of the home schoolers’ position. In Crawford, a home school family who operated as a &ldquopsatellite” of a nearby private school, was challenged by the local school district. The prosecuting attorney, by God’s grace, decided to leave the family alone because it appeared to him that such an arrangement “appears to be in compliance with the laws of the State of Kansas and no action by our office is necessary.”
In Gove County and Johnson County, HSLDA families met with somewhat stiffer opposition. In Gove County, an aggressive SRS agent insisted on interviewing the family’s children separately and insinuated that child abuse was involved since the family was home schooling. HSLDA attorney Chris Klicka intervened and explained to the agent that the superintendent had only referred the situation to her to find out if the family was in attendance at school. Klicka emphasized no abuse allegations had ever been made and therefore, she had no authority to interview the children. The SRS agent then turned the situation over to the prosecuting attorney who demanded the parents be certified teachers and their school approved by the state. Once again, Klicka intervened and wrote a legal letter to the prosecutor setting the record straight. The prosecutor finally decided to leave the family alone.
In Johnson County, where the Sawyer case arose, an HSLDA family received a lengthy form requiring them to give information on how much time a psychologist was used in addition to a daily schedule, lesson plans for the last two weeks, testing, accreditation, a list of textbooks, and more. The accompanying letter from the prosecutor explained that he wanted all this information in order to determine if he should bring charges. Attorney Chris Klicka wrote back to him for the family, proving that their home school met all the minimal standards for non-accredited schools.
The prosecutor responded by stating he would file against the family within thirty days unless they completed the form. Klicka replied by demonstrating that virtually all the questions exceeded the state’s authority. He explained further that since he did not know what the prosecutor considered to be a “legitimate school” he would not have the family give information that could possibly incriminate them. The prosecutor finally gave in and left the family alone.