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Contrario Sensu

Out of Whack
I had been sawing firewood when the chain jumped out of the sprocket of my chainsaw. Our three-year-old walked up to me as I was fiddling with the chainsaw and asked what was wrong. Wanting to avoid a lengthy explanation, I simply said the chainsaw was “out of whack.” He looked at me and said, “Do you need some more whack, Dad?”

Scott Kiewit
Laurel, Mississippi

Content of Certificate of Enrollment Challenged

A Home School Legal Defense Association member family residing in Eupora (Webster County) was contacted at the beginning of the 1999-2000 school year by a truant officer asserting that their Certificate of Enrollment was inadequate because it failed to describe the type of education their child was receiving. The family had indicated on the form that the A Beka curriculum was being utilized in a home instruction program. This form is published by the Office of Compulsory School Attendance Enforcement at the Mississippi Department of Education.

Section 37-13-91 of the Mississippi Code Annotated requires that the Certificate of Enrollment filed with the school attendance officer include, among other things, a “simple description of the type of education the compulsory-school-age child is receiving.” Under Mississippi law, the types of education are public or nonpublic school, including a private school, church school, parochial school, and home instruction program. State law requires that the Certificate of Enrollment be filed for all students in a nonpublic school, regardless of category.

Thus, it appears that the “type of education” to be described in the Certificate of Enrollment is simply what type of school the child is attending. There is no indication that a detailed description of the curriculum must be included. HSLDA’s interpretation of this requirement is that a family may simply indicate that a home instruction program is being conducted by the parents. Parents who provide additional information such as the name of the curriculum being utilized or the titles to textbooks are providing more than the law requires. They should not be challenged by public school officials as to the adequacy of the information provided.

HSLDA has written the office of compulsory school attendance enforcement, pointing out that the current Certificate of Enrollment seeks more information than authorized by state law. The legislation creating this office expressly states that its “policies or guidelines shall not add to or contradict with [sic] the requirements of Section 37-13-91” governing home instruction programs.