Originally Sent: 7/31/2014
|From the HSLDA e-lert service|
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Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt answers questions and assists members with legal issues in your state. He and his wife homeschool their children.
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Dear Member Family and Friends,
Over the past few months we have assisted several homeschooling families who have reported being visited by Betty Sims, the Mercer County director of pupil personnel. In this process we spoke with Ms. Sims and learned that she intended to randomly visit homeschool families in the county to “check up” on their homeschool program.
We explained to Ms. Sims, and our member families, that under Kentucky law a homeschool program operates as a private school and is therefore required to keep attendance and scholarship records (report cards) in the same manner (i.e. on a six- or nine-week schedule) as the local public schools. However, since homeschool programs are also operated by parents in their private residences, the provision of Kentucky law stating that these records are to be “open for inspection” could face a legal challenge if a school official were to show up at a home and demand immediate access to these records.
As many of you may know, for many years there have been concerns about school officials attempting to apply the “open for inspection” provision of Kentucky law to homeschool programs. In 1997 the main homeschool state organizations at the time, Christian Home Educators of Kentucky (CHEK) and Kentucky Home Education Association (KHEA), worked with the Kentucky Directors of Pupil Personnel Association to develop the “Best Practice Document” approach to this problem.
The document helped establish an agreement that if parents submitted their notice of attendance in a private homeschool program to their local school officials by the first two weeks of the school year, they were presumed to be operating a bona-fide homeschool program. Home visits were discouraged. However, if a school district official obtained evidence that a particular family was not adequately educating their children then the official could request additional documentation.
However, Ms. Sims appears to want to examine the records of every homeschool family in Mercer County. Based upon the letter Ms. Sims sent dated July 23, 2014, it appears that she intends to resume this comprehensive examination.
We have been in contact with the county attorney and Ms. Sims about this situation, and we will continue to work to prevent any further home visits. We are exploring every option we have in order to stop this outrageous action by Mercer County.
In the meantime, if you have any contact with Mercer County, please contact us immediately at (540) 338-5600.
When to Report
Report to public school officials, as you have in the past, within the first two weeks of the beginning of the school year. This year Mercer County schools begin on August 13. You should have your notice into the county no later than August 27.
Make sure that you maintain your attendance and scholarship records. These should be kept on file, though it should only be necessary for you to provide this information if there is specific evidence that you are not operating a bona-fide school.
However, each family’s situation may be different, so please alert us if you receive any contact from Ms. Sims or other Mercer County officials.
We hope to update you shortly on any progress we are making in this situation.
HSLDA staff attorney
P.S. Feel free to forward this to other nonmember homeschool families in Mercer County.
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