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Date:
From:
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4/5/2011 4:02:45 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Massachusetts: School District Threatens to Deny Homeschooling

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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School District Threatens to Deny Homeschooling

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

A Massachusetts school district has threatened to deny homeschooling
approval for families who do not submit to mid-year assessments.

Chicopee Public Schools Assistant for Curriculum and Staff Development
Sharon St. Pierre contacted district member families with a request
for mid-year work samples that demonstrate "the acquisition of
critical concepts, content, and skills." In her letter she threatened
that "If the assessments are not received within one week, I will have
no choice but to recommend that the School Committee deny your Home
School renewal application for the 2011-2012 school year due to
non-compliance with the District's policy."

It is our opinion that Massachusetts law provides no legal basis for a
school district to demand a mid-year educational assessment in the
form of a work sample, or otherwise.

The 1987 Charles decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
lays out guidelines for homeschooling in Massachusetts, including
assessments. In Charles, the court notes that school districts may
properly require "periodic standardized testing" of homeschooled
students. We interpret "periodic" to mean at most annually.
Practically speaking, an annual assessment is sufficient to meet the
law's demands for a superintendent to "ensure educational progress and
the attainment of minimum standards." In those states where
assessments are part of the legal framework they are annual, with few
exceptions.

The Charles case does acknowledge that homeschoolers and school
districts may, in consultation, choose other methods of assessment
including the submission of work samples, even midyear, if the parents
agree. What is wrong is for the school district to require parents to
surrender to a one-size-fits-all assessment approach as a condition of
exercising their right to homeschool their children. The fact is that
the vast majority of school districts in Massachusetts allow parents a
choice of assessment options - this is what Chicopee should do also.
What is even more egregious is for the district to threaten the right
to homeschool if families do not comply with such a request.

I am in communication with the school district regarding this
situation, and we hope to see a resolution soon. HSLDA is committed
to defending the right to homeschool without unlawful and unreasonable
government intrusion. Please keep us and your fellow homeschoolers in
Chicopee in your thoughts and prayers.

Thank you for your support!

Very truly yours,


Michael P. Donnelly, Esq.
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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