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February 29, 2008

Homeschool Family is Accused of Truancy

In November, 2007, Putnam County school officials contacted the Jones family concerning their homeschool. They indicated that because of “the children’s pattern of truancy,” the teacher parent was required to come to the school district office with the children. Furthermore, school officials wanted to review the portfolio of the children’s work, even though they had resumed homeschooling only a month earlier. Lastly, the school also wanted to review a portfolio of the children’s work every month!

Home School Legal Defense Association Senior Counsel Christopher Klicka wrote a letter to the attorney for the school district and explained that the family did not have a pattern of truancy, so they did not have to have their portfolio reviewed every month. In fact, the family had homeschooled the previous year without problems and had only enrolled the children in a virtual charter school for a short time during the 2007-08 school year. The virtual charter school did not work for the children because it was too restrictive and stifled them. Therefore, the family switched back to homeschooling under the homeschool law.

Then they received the letter from Putnam County school district imposing the restrictions.

Klicka further established that the family, under the law, does not have to have their children interviewed, nor do they have to meet school officials for a portfolio review. Consequently, the family cancelled the appointment. The school attorney responded, admitting there was no truancy.

Meanwhile, school district officials called Mrs. Jones, demanding she bring her children in for the “first” portfolio review or else she would be in violation of the law.

Klicka called the school attorney, who admitted there was no need for any meeting—let alone one where the Jones children were required to attend. He then called the school official.

The family agreed to mail in a “one-time” portfolio review over Christmas break. It appeared that everything was resolved.

However, two months later, the school district again contacted the Jones family. Officials criticized their portfolio and demanded that another be created for an appointment the officials set unilaterally.

Attorney Klicka wrote back to the school officials, stating their demands amounted to harassment and violated the civil and constitutional rights of the Jones family. He also told them that no further portfolios would be compiled because the family did not have a “pattern of nonattendance.” Because of the constant trouble from the school district, the family decided to terminate their homeschool program and instead homeschool under a private school umbrella.