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a contrario sensu

Three Feet
We were cleaning up and I wanted to move a piece of telephone pole to another place on our spacious country property. Our son, Ben, who was just learning to drive, was helping and I had him back the pickup truck towards the pole, but he suddenly stopped short. I yelled to him, “Ben, you still have three feet!”

“No, I don’t—that’s the problem!” he replied.

The engine had stalled. He had one foot on the clutch and one foot on the brake, but needed that third foot to step on the gas and keep the engine going.

Kathy & Steve Rothrock
Sprakers, NY

New York

Babylon Union Free School District Adopts “Approval” Procedure

This fall, the Babylon Union Free School District responded to a member family’s notification of intent to home school with a mailing that opened with an outline of its “Procedure for Home Instruction Approval.” The five steps of the approval procedure were as follows:

  1. Request for approval made to district prior to August 1 of each year.
  2. Meeting held with parents to determine
    1. reason,
    2. who will instruct, and
    3. qualifications of instructor.
  3. Review of curricular materials and program
    1. analysis based on “substantial equivalency” to district program.
  4. Home visitation by Youth Service Coordinator
    1. to determine adequacy of work site and availability of materials and
    2. to note any interfering factors to home instruction.
  5. Approval/disapproval by superintendent

Also included in the packet were forms entitled Home Instruction Worksheet and Data Sheet of Home School Instructor. The latter sought information about the background and qualifications of the parents to instruct their children.

Home School Legal Defense Association responded to the superintendent of schools on behalf of our member family, pointing out that there is no “approval” of a home instruction program in New York and that all of the steps in the procedure were without any legal basis. HSLDA also pointed out that the Home Instruction Worksheet was a document for internal district use to be completed by public school officials, not home instructing parents. Further, HSLDA pointed out the fact that, under the home instruction regulations, parents do not have to submit any information about their qualifications to teach their children at home.

Any HSLDA member family who experiences a similar attempt by their school officials to unlawfully scrutinize their home school program should contact our office for assistance.