The Pittsburgh School District agreed earlier this spring to settle the federal lawsuit filed on behalf of the Deely family by HSLDA.
The case began over a year ago when Superintendent Richard Wallace of the Pittsburgh School District refused to allow Daniel and Kathleen Deely to begin home schooling in February 1991. The Superintendent claimed incorrectly that Pennsylvania law required all home school families to notify their local school district by August 1 of each year. The actual law allows a family to begin home schooling any time during the year, but stipulates that the family must notify the school district by August 1 of every subsequent year.
The Pittsburgh School District retaliated against the Deelys by filing criminal truancy charges against Mrs. Deely. Interestingly, the school district did not press charges against Mr. Deely—only his wife.
Recognizing the gravity of the situation, HSLDA responded with a civil rights lawsuit in federal court. This action convinced the school district to suspend state truancy proceedings. HSLDA also sought a legal opinion from the Department of Education concerning the interpretation of the law. The opinion issued by the Department of Education agreed with HSLDA’s reading of the law, rejecting the school district’s harsh interpretation.
Upon learning of the Department of Education’s opinion, the Pittsburgh School District realized they had no support for their interpretation of the law and that they would lose in court. As a result they agreed to drop all criminal charges against Mrs. Deely, expunge her criminal record, and clearly state that families just beginning to home school in Pennsylvania may notify their school district at any time and by August 1 every subsequent year.
The Pittsburgh School District also paid damages to the Deelys as well as attorney fees to HSLDA.