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Massachusetts

August 15, 2006
New Personnel, New Problems

For the last 19 years Massachusetts school districts have been restrained by constitutional court rulings. While districts technically have the power to “approve” homeschool programs, any plan that gets rejected is still legal unless the district can prove that the education in the home “fails to equal, in thoroughness, efficiency, and the progress made therein, that in the local school in the same time.” In practice, this has meant that every homeschool is legal unless it is actually worse than the public school in town—which is rare.

As a result, districts have slowly begun to adopt policies that respect the right to homeschool. Even where the policy does not specifically respect homeschool freedom, the personnel generally do. The school official who has spent the last 10 years dealing with homeschoolers knows her limits.

Unfortunately, this changes every time the personnel change—as families in Hanover learned quite recently. A Home School Legal Defense Association member family recently sent in a fairly standard notice of her intent to educate her child at home, only to encounter surprising resistance. HSLDA attorney Scott Somerville contacted the assistant superintendent, only to discover that she had no real understanding of Massachusetts homeschool law. She seemed surprised that any homeschooler would dare to question the school district’s actions.

This particular HSLDA member was homeschooled herself, and fully intends to stand up for her freedom, even if it means a field trip to a local court house. HSLDA will be there to defend her—because her courage is what keeps homeschooling free.

 Other Resources

Massachusetts—A Legal Analysis