January 10, 2006
Is Homeschooling Neglect?

Massachusetts is one of two states that still require "approval in advance" before a family may educate a child at home. Each year, the Home School Legal Defense Association serves a long list of families who start homeschooling before their district has voted to "approve" their program. Sometimes this results in Child Protective Services investigations, but these are normally cleared up quite quickly. As soon as the school "approves" the homeschool, there should be no more reason to suspect neglect.

Last year, HSLDA successfully reversed one educational neglect finding, even though it took two years of waiting to have the "Fair Hearing" to reconsider the matter. The Springfield branch of the Department of Social Services ruled within 48 hours that an approved homeschool could not be guilty of "educational neglect" even though the family started teaching before the school granted final approval.

Now Cambridge has its own test case. The Monahan family (not their real name) was reported for educational neglect just days before their program was approved, but despite the official paperwork from the school, the Department of Social Services insists that the family must comply with home visits. HSLDA has taken a strong position against any such unlawful demands, and will be assisting this family with their "Fair Hearing" request.