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Georgia

October 24, 2011

School Social Worker Harasses Family

When a family in Madison County decided to withdraw their children from public school this past October in order to homeschool them, the mother went to the school office and completed the withdrawal form given to her by the school secretary. The secretary then directed the mother to the school social worker who told her that the withdrawal was not effective until she filed a notice of intent to utilize a home study program. This meant that the school district would be counting the children absent until the notice of intent was filed. The mother did not want to file the notice in Madison County at that time because the family intended to move within a few days to a different county where she planned to file the notice. Nevertheless, the social worker insisted that the law required an immediate filing in Madison County.

Home study programs in Georgia are governed exclusively by the provisions of Section 20-2-690 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated. Thus, local school districts are without any authority to establish any policies or procedures that add to or contradict the provisions of state law. Subsection (c)(2) of section 20-2-690 requires a parent or guardian to “submit within 30 days after the establishment of a home study program and by September 1 annually thereafter a declaration of intent to utilize a home study program to the superintendent of schools of the local school district in which the home study program is located.”

After the family contacted Home School Legal Defense Association for assistance, Senior Counsel Dewitt Black wrote the school social worker and informed him of what the law says. Black explained that due to the fact that the family first began their home study program on the day their children were withdrawn from public school, they had 30 days from that date in which to file the declaration of intent. Black’s letter further stated that since the family was moving to another county before the deadline for filing the declaration of intent, they were entitled to file the declaration in their new county of residence. Finally, Black pointed out that state law does not require that parents file a declaration of intent in order for the withdrawal of their children from public school to be effective.

As a result of HSLDA’s letter, the social worker changed his position and no longer obstructed the withdrawal of the family’s children from public school.