State v. Mrs. R|
Blind mother fights for right to home school
The R family is enrolled in a registered umbrella school and notified the public school of this fact on August 12, 2000. Nevertheless, Mrs. R has been charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. What makes this case so unusual, and Mrs. R so remarkable, is the fact that she is blind. With a trustworthy 12-year-old son and a caring school administrator, Mrs. R has been able to make significant progress with her son's education. Home School Legal Defense Association will defend her at trial on January 23, 2001.
Harrahill v. City|
Daytime curfew battle moves on
On December 20, 2000, a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge upheld Monrovia, California's daytime curfew by finding it to be a curfew, not a truancy ordinance.
Represented by HSLDA, the two home schooling families challenging the law will immediately appeal the ruling. Michael P. Farris, HSLDA's Chairman and General Counsel, said, "We think this decision is wrong. The court of appeals will decide the case from scratch. We are confident that the law is on our side and that we have a good chance of prevailing at the end."
The families initially filed suit in 1997, contending that Monrovia's daytime curfew is a violation of the state constitution.
In January 1999, a Los Angeles district court judge ruled for the home schooling families, but the city appealed. The court of appeals sent the case back to the district court for a review of the curfew's constitutionality.
HSLDA argued that Monrovia violated California's constitutional separation of powers by asserting municipal authority over education. The city's actions illegally preempt state law by going beyond what state law has established for truancy enforcement.
"Monrovia admits its daytime curfew is an educational ordinance," said Farris. "In California, local school districts, not municipalities, govern public education. Home schoolers who comply with state attendance laws should not be subjected to repeated stops and police checks just because the Monrovia City Council doesn't like the state compulsory attendance laws."
A number of California municipalities have enacted daytime curfews, giving this case statewide and potentially nationwide impact.
Stone v. Ankeny School District|
Good news for dual-enrolled students
Under state law, Iowa public and accredited nonpublic school students may take community college courses at school district expense. However, last spring, Ankeny School District refused to pay for classes taken by the Stone's daughter, a dual-enrolled home school student, basing its decision on a declaratory ruling issued by the department of education seven years ago.
At a December 7, 2000, state board of education hearing, Administrative Law Judge Susan Anderson overturned the declaratory ruling, stating that the policy behind Iowa's Post Secondary Enrollment Options Act "is to expand the academic opportunities available to high school pupils." Judge Anderson concluded that the "plain language of the Act, when coupled with the dual enrollment statute enacted four years later, requires inclusion of dual-enrolled students in the Act's benefits." The Stone's daughter "should not have been denied benefits...."
In re Sarah D|
Judge ignores due process
One week after Mrs. D submitted a notice of intent to home school, her 14-year-old daughter, Sarah D, was summoned to district court on truancy charges. At the November 16, 2000, arraignment, District Court Judge Sue Carol Browning ordered Sarah to return to public school. Upon learning two weeks later that the girl was not re-enrolled in public school, Judge Browning promptly cited Mrs. D for contempt of court without first conducting a hearing to examine the evidence and to give the mother a chance to explain the daughter's absence. The judge then issued a bench warrant for Mrs. D's arrest without bond and a pick-up order for the child.
Immediately, HSLDA petitioned a higher court to quash this illegal order. By state law, Judge Browning should have provided notice to Mrs. D, and given her an opportunity to tell her side of the story before issuing a warrant. Ruling that Judge Browning did not follow due process as required by Kentucky state law, Seventh Judicial Circuit Court Judge Tyler Gill nullified the pickup order and arrest warrant.
Logan County public school officials continue to allege that Sarah was truant, even though Mrs. D maintains that she provided the school district with a proper notice of intent to home school. Five of the alleged unexcused absences occurred after she began home schooling Sarah in October. Local school officials remain intent on pursuing the truancy charges.
When the state's attorney learned that state law requires proving nine unexcused absences for the charge of habitual truancy, instead of the eight alleged, he filed an amended petition alleging ten unexcused absences. The charges on the first petition were dismissed and the child was arraigned on the new charges on January 8, 2001. At the arraignment on the new charges, Judge Browning refused to hear evidence regarding the family's home instruction program and told the parents that they were educationally neglecting their daughter and must enroll her immediately in public school.
HSLDA will again petition the circuit court judge to prohibit this order from taking effect. The trial on the truancy charges is scheduled for February 9, 2001.
In re Care & Protection of Megan|
Educational neglect alleged
Megan's mother had provided Northampton School Department with a list of her text and materials for history, science, math, language arts, spelling, art, and music. Not satisfied, the school district filed a petition alleging that Megan is a child who needs care and protection.
But some of Northampton's requirements for home school applicants exceed state law. For instance, the district requires parents to meet with the superintendent to clarify the responsibility of the school committee and the parents. In addition, parents must provide the number of hours of daily instruction. The district also demands "access to the textbooks, workbooks and other instructional aids to be used by the children and the lesson plans and teaching manuals to be used by the parents." Finally, Northampton Public Schools insists "that the superintendent or school committee may require periodic standardized testing of the children to ensure educational progress and the attainment of minimum standards." HSLDA believes these requirements are neither reasonable nor essential. We will defend Megan's mother from these allegations of educational neglect.
State v. Mrs. W|
Superintendent files truancy charges
When Mrs. W returned her 10-year-old son to the public school after five weeks of home education, she was met with a storm of demands. First, the superintendent wanted Mrs. W's portfolio materials and an evaluation immediately-even though Pennsylvania law only requires them at the end of the school year. Then, he sent a letter, warning that if the portfolio and evaluation were not provided in 10 days, she would be prosecuted. (State law allows 30 days for home school parents to respond to such letters.)
Thirty days after receipt of the warning letter, Mrs. W provided both the portfolio and an evaluation, but the superintendent had already initiated charges for violation of school attendance law. HSLDA is representing Mrs. W against these charges that have been filed in blatant disregard for Pennsylvania home education law.
State v. Mrs. B|
A few days after Mr. and Mrs. B sent their daughter to first grade in Providence, Rhode Island, they decided they had made a terrible mistake. Wanting to try home schooling, the B family asked the public school for information on how to go about it. After several months of "getting the runaround" from school officials, Mr. and Mrs. B got something much worse-a summons to appear in court. It was only then that they found out about HSLDA. Although the B family had not technically complied with Rhode Island law, HSLDA intervened before the case went to court.
School officials have accepted the family's application to home school, but the school committee has yet to formally vote on the application. After HSLDA contacted the school officials, the case was continued in order to give the committee time to act on the principal's recommendation for acceptance. The charges against the family should be dismissed after the committee approves the program.
State v. Mr. & Mrs. B|
Parents charged with violating attendance law
During Thanksgiving break, the B family withdrew their six-year-old son from public school and advised the school that they would be privately educating him. Two weeks later,
Mr. and Mrs. B were charged with violation of the compulsory attendance law and served with
a summons to appear in court. In compliance with Texas law, the B family then delivered a letter of assurance to the school district on December 26, 2000. HSLDA will represent the family in court on February 5, 2001.