State v. Karen Gullett
Karen Gullett, who withdrew her two children from the local public middle school and began home schooling them in 1998–99, was prosecuted by the Colonial School District near Wilmington. Mrs. Gullett was enrolled in a private school recognized by the department of education, but sent her initial enrollment application to the wrong address. Therefore, when the school district called to verify her enrollment, the school replied that she was not registered. After appearing in court with Mrs. Gullett for her arraignment, HSLDA was able to provide documentation to the public school principal that she was, in fact, enrolled with the Old Capital Trail Academy in Newark. The school district office immediately dropped the truancy charges.
In re Donnie C.
A petition has been filed in the district court of Crawford County, Kansas, alleging that Donnie C. is a child in need of care, because he is being home schooled in violation of state law. Donnies public school experience, where he had been labeled as having a behavior disorder, was miserable. He was behind his peers academically and was extremely unhappy at school. So, determined to get their son the education he needed, Mr. and Mrs. C. brought him home at age 10. Donnie is an only child, so he is receiving the undivided attention of a parent during the course of his studies.
Kansas law requires only that children not in public school be taught in private school by a competent instructor for a period of time substantially equivalent to the public school. The childs court-appointed guardian and the county attorney will probably argue that neither Mr. or Mrs. C. is competent to teach their special needs child and that the hours of instruction are not substantially equivalent to those in the public school. Education experts Steven Duvall, Ph.D., and Brian Ray, Ph.D. met with the C. family on separate occasions to evaluate the child and his home instruction program. They will testify to the court that Donnie is in a program of home instruction that is well designed to meet his needs and one that satisfies the state requirements. The trial is presently scheduled for May 18.
State v. Mr. and Mrs. Morales
At the beginning of each school year, Mr. and Mrs. Morales send the local superintendent notice of their intent to home educate their children and a list of the textbooks they will be using in their home instruction program. State law does not require notification, so this procedure is more than adequate in most New Jersey school districts. But the vice principal in the Mahwah Township insists that he must see the books in order to satisfy his obligation to ensure the education of all citizens. Because Mr. and Mrs. Morales have not permitted the vice principal to inspect their books, they are being criminally prosecuted for violation of the compulsory attendance law.
In an effort to satisfy the vice principals concern, and yet preserve their parental rights and religious freedom, the Moraleses have provided the vice principal with a copy of the packing list that accompanied the delivery of their textbooks. The vice principal now has evidence that these parents do, in fact, have books. Any further demand to see them can only be regarded as a violation of the Moraleses constitutional right to direct the education of their children and an excessive entanglement of government in religion. This case is scheduled for trial on March 29 at 7:00 p.m., unless the vice principal agrees to drop the charges.
Mr. and Mrs. Carl Merendo v. Rease, et al.
When Debbie Merendo was confronted by a social workers request to enter her home and interview her children, she told him that he would not be permitted to enter without a warrant. Though the social worker would not tell this home school mother what the allegations were, she would later learn that she was alleged to have dead fish in the back yard, dishes stacked to the ceiling, and mice running rampant. When the police officers were likewise denied entry, one of them placed his foot in the doorway before Mrs. Merendo could close it. While she was trying to close the door against the officers resistance, the officer reached inside the doorway to spray the mother and her children with Mace. An ambulance was called to attend to the children, but Mrs. Merendo remained firm in her refusal to permit the social workers entry. Additional police were summoned to the scene following the incident with the Mace. One of the additional officers advised the Merendos that if they refused to permit the social workers entry, they would both be arrested and their children removed. In the face of these threats, the parents permitted the social worker to enter and interrogate their children. The mother was then arrested for obstruction of official business and assaulting a police officer. She spent the night in the local jail before being released the next morning on a $2500 bond.
HSLDA filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the Merendos against the social worker and police officers who violated their Fourth Amendment right to be safe and secure in their home, as well as Mrs. Merendos right to be free from false arrest and malicious prosecution. A federal judge recently dismissed the social worker from the case after finding that his conduct did not violate clearly established law. The case against the police officers is scheduled for a jury trial on March 29 in Columbus, Ohio.
Susan Davis v. Grant A. Rowland, Jr.
Susan Davis was employed by the Washington County Board of Education in Jonesborough, Tennessee, to drive a special education bus. On May 26, 1998, Mrs. Davis informed Director of Schools Grant A. Rowland, Jr., that she and her husband had decided to home school her children the following year. The director became angry, criticized her decision, and asked her if she intended to keep her bus drivers job, to which she replied, Yes. The following day, May 27, 1998, the director terminated Mrs. Davis as a bus driver. The director claims that this mother was fired because she used the bus for personal use, but it is apparent that a substantial factor in the termination was her decision to exercise her constitutional right to educate her children at home. HSLDA has advised Mr. Rowland and the Washington County Board of Education that our office represents Mrs. Davis in connection with her claim for wrongful discharge and violation of her right to direct the education of her children. Mrs. Davis is asking for little more than her job back. If the school board refuses, a civil rights lawsuit will be her next course of action.
City of Balch Springs v. Edmon James
The criminal prosecution of 14-year-old home school student Edmon James for two violations of his towns daytime curfew has been mysteriously dismissed. Edmon was near his home in Balch Springs, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, working on his go-cart, when he was cited for violation of the curfew. The Balch Springs daytime curfew prohibits public presence of minors between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Edmon was cited on two occasions in the fall of 1998. Although he was not required to be in school and had the permission of his parents to be outside at the time he was cited, the city refused to drop the charges. We requested a trial by jury on behalf of this young man. Then, in early February, while awaiting a setting of the trial, we received a letter from the court clerk advising that the city prosecutor elected to dismiss all charges.