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On May 30, 2003, Paul De Pree, homeschooling father and trustee of Patrick Henry College, organized a meeting at state senator Tony Stamas' office. The purpose of the meeting was to put to rest certain concerns that there was a need for future legislation in Michigan to require more accountability for homeschoolers.
In addition to the senator, Representative Sandy Caul, Representative John Moolenar, and Judge Doreen Allen were in attendance. Furthermore, Loraine and Pam Durfee, Dan and Sarah Hickman, and Steve and Michelle Mork, all homeschool parents, were there. HSLDA Senior Counsel Chris Klicka attended by speakerphone.
Chris Klicka spoke first, describing the extraordinary academic success of homeschoolers at the elementary and secondary levels. He also explained how homeschoolers on the average score above average on the college entrance exams and, according to surveys at universities, the homeschoolers have a higher grade point average than the college average. He briefly described the intense legal struggle to be free in Michigan over the 18 years since he represented families that were homeschooling.
Regarding a question from Judge Allen concerning how the law enforcement authorities can deal with parents who are fraudulent homeschoolers, Klicka emphasized, "In all 50 states, including Michigan, there is a compulsory attendance law with penalties if a child is not being educated. In Michigan, since the homeschool law does not require the parents to notify, the burden is on the school district and law enforcement authorities to obtain credible evidence that a family is not in compliance with the law. Upon obtaining that evidence, law enforcement can bring truancy charges against the truant family." Klicka emphasized how regulating everyone and requiring accountability takes the freedom away from the vast majority of innocent parents. The better way is to simply penalize the law breakers.
The Hickman family explained the private accountability that takes place through homeschool support groups, while the Durfees explained their first hand terrible experience with their own child in the public schools. The Morks gave a short rendition of a typical day in the life of a homeschool family, while Aaron and Joanna De Pree, the grown children of Paul and Kathy Du Pree, explained their success in college and how their homeschool education prepared them for life.
The meeting continued for almost two hours, with the representative from the Family Independence Agency (FIA) stating that, "Michigan's law is so loose that those people who are looking for a safe haven to practice incest will flock to the state of Michigan because they know no one will be checking up on them if they chose homeschooling." A large part of the second hour involved talking about the subject of incest and the FIA representative's attempt to link homeschoolers with this despicable conduct. The FIA representative believed that accountability to license experts and public school officials was necessary to prevent incest. Klicka and the others all explained that the issue was about education of the children and that the penalties must be severe when situations involve such crimes. There is no research or statistics showing that homeschoolers have any difficulty in this area.
The final concurrence of the representatives, senator, and judge, was that homeschooling is a legal right that must be protected. They were all supportive of the status quo in Michigan, which is one of the best laws in the country. We are thankful to Paul Du Pree and all his efforts to help bring about this meeting that educated and created strong advocates in the Michigan Legislature for homeschooling.