The Home School Court Report
VOLUME XV, NUMBER 4
- disclaimer -
JULY / AUGUST 1999
Cover
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Cover Story
What Did the Founders Say? A Strategy to Bring Original Intent Back to U.S. Courts

Special Features
House Protects Liberty—When Money Is at Stake

Debate: The Clash of Skill, Wit, and Ideas

PHC Breaks New Ground

Touched By An Angel Responds to Home Schooler’s Concerns

National Center Reports
Straight A’s Bill Introduced

Marriage Penalty Tax Relief

New Plan Allows SSN Alternative for IRS Deductions

The Beginning of the End:National Teaching Certificates and Goals 2000

Military Recuitment of Home Schoolers Increasing

Across the States
State by State

Regular Features
Press Clippings

A Contrario Sensu

Prayer and Praise

Litigation Report

President’s Page

H  O  M  E     S  C  H  O  O  L  I  N  G     N  E  W  S     F  R  O  M
Across the States
AL · CA · DE · GA · HI · ID · IL · KY · LA · MD · MS · MT · NC · NE · NV · NY · OH · OR · SC · SD · TN · TX · WV · WY

Home School Heartbeat in Mississippi

Bruce
WCMR
94.5
FM
Centreville
WPAE
89.7
FM
Cleveland
WDFX
98.3
FM
Columbia
WPRG
90.9
FM
Duck Hill
WAUM
91.9
FM
Forest
WQVI
90.5
FM
Gulfport
WAOY
91.7
FM
Hattiesburg
WAII
89.3
FM
Indianola
WYTF
88.7
FM
Jackson
WQST
92.5
FM
Kosciusko
WJTA
91.7
FM
Laurel
WAII
89.3
FM
Laurel
WATP
90.7
FM
Lucedale
WRBE
1140
AM
Lucedale
WRBE
106.9
FM
Magee
WSJC
810
AM
McComb
WAQL
90.5
FM
Merdian
WMER
1390
AM
Natchez
WASM
91.1
FM
Natchez
WTYJ
97.7
FM
Oxford
WAVI
91.5
FM
Pascagoula
WPAS
89.1
FM
Port Gibson
WATU
89.3
FM
Sardis
KBUD
102.1
FM
Starkville
WJZB
88.7
FM
Tupelo
AMERICAN FA
888
SATELL
Tupelo
KBDO
91.7
FM
Tupelo
KBDO
91.7
FM
Tupelo
KZFT
90.5
FM
Tupelo
WAFR
88.3
FM
Tupelo
WAJS
91.7
FM
Waynesboro
WZKM
90.9
FM
Mississippi

Forrest County Flareup
    Home schooling families in Forrest County received a letter from the school attendance officer advising them of requirements for continuing a home instruction program during the 19992000 school year. The letter acknowledges that the certificate of enrollment is not required by state law to be filed until September 15, but the letter requests that the certificate be filed before the start of the public school term scheduled to begin August 9, 1999.
    In meetings with local support group leaders in June, the school attendance officer advised them that he was going to require the certificate of enrollment form to be completed in his office and that he would not accept the completed form through the mail. The attendance officer also advised the home school leaders that he intended to require, not merely request, first-time home educators whose children had previously been in the public school to submit a certificate of enrollment no later than the first day of public school. Further, he disclosed that he intended to interview all parents filing the certificate in his office, so that he could determine whether they were bona fide home educators.
    Upon hearing of these unlawful requirements, Home School Legal Defense Association provided the school attendance officer with the correct information about state law. Mississippi law states that the certificate of enrollment must be returned to the school attendance officer on or before September 15 of each year, regardless of whether the parents are continuing their home instruction program from the previous year or beginning a new home instruction program. Local attendance officers are without any authority to impose a different deadline for filing the certificate of enrollment.
    There is no requirement under state law that parents either complete the certificate of enrollment form in the presence of the attendance officer in his office or that the certificate of enrollment be personally delivered to the attendance officer. There is also no requirement under state law that parents be interviewed by any public school official about the contents of the certificate of enrollment. Section 37-13-91(3) of Mississippi Code Annotated states that the certificate of enrollment shall be “returned” to the school attendance officer and that parents should “send” the certificate of enrollment to the school attendance officer in order to be in compliance with this subsection. Thus, parents are free to complete the certificate of enrollment form at any location they choose and simply mail the certificate to the school attendance officer. Since the school attendance officer in Forrest County threatened to discard any certificates of enrollment received in the mail, HSLDA has advised member families in Forrest County to send their certificate of enrollment by certified mail, return receipt requested, in order to have a record of filing the certificate.
    The aggressive approach taken by the school attendance officer may be related to the creation of the office of compulsory school attendance enforcement by the Mississippi legislature in 1998. This legislation authorized the employment of up to 153 school attendance officers at any one time throughout the state. These attendance officers report to one of three school attendance officers supervisors who, in turn, are under the direct supervision of the director of the office of compulsory school attendance enforcement.
    After it became obvious that this legislation was going to pass, HSLDA proposed language to curb the actions of overly zealous attendance officers: “ . . . the policies or guidelines [of the office of compulsory school attendance enforcement] shall not add to or contradict the requirements of Section 37-13-91.” Section 37-13-91 sets forth all of the legal requirements for conducting home instruction in Mississippi. Since HSLDA’s language was included in the law, neither the office of compulsory school attendance enforcement nor its attendance officers have the authority to require more of home schooling parents than the home instruction statute presently prescribes.
    HSLDA member families in other counties in Mississippi experiencing the same or similar difficulties as those encountered in Forrest County should contact HSLDA for assistance. Unlawful policies and procedures should be opposed before they become entrenched as an accepted practice.