Looking back at the past nine months it is very apparent that God has protected home schoolers throughout our country. During the 1990–91 school year, close to 2000 negative legal contacts have been handled by HSLDA lawyers on behalf of our members. These contacts have involved various degrees of harassment, ranging from actual or threatened prosecution to the attempted imposition of restrictions in excess of the law.
Misapplication of the law plagued the 33 states that have home school legislation. Single parents or parents with handicapped children received the worst treatment, and some members were even threatened with a termination of their right to home school by districts trying to impose their own notice of intent deadlines, testing or evaluation procedures, curriculum requirements, or in some instances, qualification requirements.
In states where home schools either have to be approved by the school district or operate as a private school, the challenges were more intense. Many HSLDA families were faced with illegal home visit, curriculum approval, and excessive qualification requirements. Undoubtedly, the vagueness of the laws in many of these states contributes to the arbitrary treatment of home schoolers.
Time and time again, HSLDA counseled members regarding appropriate action and then, when necessary, intervened on their behalf. This often involved writing lengthy legal letters to the school districts or making numerous telephone calls.
By God's grace, almost all the contacts were resolved by the HSLDA legal staff. The only families still being challenged are those who are in court at various levels of appeal. These remaining cases are covered throughout this edition of the Home School Court Report.
Other frequent contacts handled by HSLDA lawyers involved social workers investigating home schoolers for alleged “educational neglect” and “child abuse.” The pattern was clear—the home schoolers were generally reported by neighbors or relatives who did not like home schooling and as a result fabricated child abuse allegations.
Some home schoolers were turned over for a full investigation by child welfare services with allegations of educational neglect based on reasons like “lingering colds,” “lack of supervision” (the most common allegation), “messy house,” “parents seen selling all of their children's shoes and coats at a rummage sale,” “clothes lying around and dishes in the sink,” “children improperly dressed,” “children sleeping in basement,” “children sleeping in attic” or “spanking.” Some families were even turned over for “bruises” on their children, and the social workers demanded a strip search.
HSLDA lawyers were able to avoid all demands to interrogate the children and all strip searches. In virtually every instance, the allegations were nothing but complete fabrications, and the social workers were usually on a “fishing expedition.” HSLDA lawyers always counseled the home school families not to allow the social worker into their homes. The attorney would call the social worker and set the boundaries for a meeting between the parents and the social worker—usually in a neutral location. By God's grace, every one of the investigations based on fabricated allegations was resolved.
HSLDA lawyers also contributed to the efforts of state home school leaders in Kansas, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin, and other states, fighting legislative attempts to further restrict home schoolers or, in some cases supporting the passage of favorable legislation. HSLDA's involvement was varied. Sometimes HSLDA would be asked to send expert witnesses to testify at legislative hearings or draft amendments. Mike Farris testified in Connecticut and Montana, Christopher Klicka in Maine and North Dakota, and Michael Smith in Arizona, Maryland, and Oregon.
In many instances HSLDA sent out special mailings to members, urging them to write to their legislators about a specific bill. Using the information provided by the National Center for Home Education, HSLDA lawyers alerted local home school leaders of the newly introduced legislation and offered assistance—in some instances the home school leaders were not yet aware of the legislation being introduced.
The NCHE staff spearheaded a number of efforts at the federal level to influence legislation or policy that would indirectly affect home schools including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Crime Bill (which originally had a dangerous child abuse provision), federal funding of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the admittance of home school children into the military.
At the rate of at least six times per week, NCHE and HSLDA staff were contacted by various newspaper, radio, or TV reporters concerning home schooling and had an opportunity to “get the word out” on the rights of home schoolers and their tremendous academic success.
God deserves all the glory for the progress of this past school year because His hand has protected the home school movement in this country. Everyone at HSLDA considers it a true privilege to be able to contribute to the protection and promotion of home schooling. Please pray for God's continued blessing and that home schoolers will continue to teach their children faithfully according to His truths.