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6/26/2002 4:19:55 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
New Jersey--Family Charged With Truancy

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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June 26, 2002

New Jersey Home School Family Charged With Truancy

Parents in New Jersey may legally choose to home school their
children rather than send them to public school. According to
published guidelines by the New Jersey Department of Education,
parents are not required to notify school officials of their
intention to home school, yet the Bryant family (name changed to
protect family's privacy) has been charged with truancy for failing
to do so.

For the past three years, Mrs. Bryant has been home schooling her
four children. On April 17, 2002, a truant officer visited her home
and asked why her children were not in school. She explained that she
educated her children at home. The officer demanded that she register
her home school with the local school district and left.

Two days after the truant officer's visit, Mrs. Bryant notified the
superintendent that she was educating her four children at home. The
superintendent responded to the notice with a letter, confirming the
home instruction and asking her to retain his letter for her records.
His letter also requested that she notify his office in September of
each year that she decides to home school.

Unbeknownst to either Mrs. Bryant or the superintendent, the truant
officer and the principals from the children's schools filed a
truancy complaint against her. The summons was not served until after
Mrs. Bryant received the superintendent's letter.

After Mrs. Bryant received the summons, it appeared that the
principals were unaware that the superintendent had received her
notice and had responded in a manner indicating that he did not
consider her to be in violation of New Jersey law.

The superintendent planned to drop the charges because of the
apparent confusion of his subordinates. Based on Mrs. Bryant's notice
of intent and his confirmation letter. He agreed that the charges
should be dropped. He later decided, however, not to drop the
charges, contending that Mrs. Bryant should be charged with truancy
for the period of time she had been home schooling before she sent
her letter of notice to him.

Home School Legal Defense Association is in the process of filing a
motion to dismiss on behalf of our member family.

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