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Michigan

June 7, 2006

Judge Threatens Family with $3,500 Fine!

Renata Broughton, a homeschool mom who lives in Eastpointe, Michigan, appeared in court with her husband, Andre, with great nervousness. They had been charged with criminal truancy and were asking for a continuance so that the date of the trial could be postponed.

The judge was not very sympathetic, even though he was aware of the homeschooling. He simply stated that this case needed to be heard soon because the Broughtons were facing a “$3,500 fine” for their child not being in school.

The situation began in December of 2005 when the family moved into the Detroit school district. They enrolled their child for a time in the Detroit Public Schools, but met with many problems, and even feared for their child’s safety. In the new year they decided to homeschool and notified the Detroit Public Schools of their change.

Meanwhile, Renata Broughton realized the Detroit Public Schools had never asked to transfer the child’s school records from Eastpointe. Upon asking Detroit Public Schools to do that, they apparently never did. When the family returned to Eastpointe, they faced criminal truancy charges for all the time their child was in Detroit Public Schools, and throughout their couple months homeschooling. Even though this information that they were homeschooling was brought before the prosecutor, the case was not dismissed.

Home School Legal Defense Association Attorney Chris Klicka contacted the court and explained the error, but the judge simply stated, “He doesn't know the law in Michigan.” This is in spite of the fact that Klicka provided the judge with extensive information concerning the history and laws in Michigan and the battle for the right to homeschool that he had been involved in for over eight years, and that he worked on the case that went before the Supreme Court of Michigan.

Attorney Dave Kallman was hired by HSLDA to represent the family at a pre-trial court conference. He walked into a room where there were numerous prosecutors, police officers, and defense lawyers, all waiting to discuss their pending cases.

Dave Kallman began to talk to the prosecutor about the fact that the Broughtons were legally homeschooling their children. The prosecutor, at that point, wondered where the truant officer was who was supposed to be there for this hearing. Nonetheless, they went forward.

As Attorney Kallman, who also homeschools his child, explained homeschooling and presented a booklet on homeschooling in Michigan that he had authored, another defense lawyer looked over his shoulder and said, “My niece homeschools; could I get a copy of that book?” So Kallman took down his name and address. A few minutes later when the prosecutor took another break to contact the truant officer by phone, the head police officer in the room came over and said, “Hey, I homeschool my children, can I get a copy of that book?” Kallman took down his name and address.

As Kallman spread out on the table some of the books that the Broughtons use to homeschool their children as evidence of the fact that they were legitimate homeschoolers, various prosecutors and defense lawyers began drifting over to the table, looking through the books, and commenting, “This is excellent material! These are great books!”

Meanwhile the prosecutor took all this in as he considered Kallman’s request for dismissal of the case. He was explained, by Kallman, the homeschool law, which, he hadn’t understood prior. In fact, the prosecutor had told Kallman that he thought homeschooling wasn’t even allowed.

He finally got a hold of the truant officer by phone and he told the truant officer he was thinking of dismissing the case. He paused for a long time as the truant officer went on and on on the other end of the line. Finally he said, “I have the law right here, and unless you have some other proof, I am going to dismiss this case.”

Needless to say, Kallman ended up going before the judge who was a replacement judge from the earlier hearing, and had the case dismissed.

Andre Broughton wrote HSLDA a letter summarizing his feelings and joy of this case being dismissed: “My wife and I have been through probably one of the most trying times in our life. Being recently called to the ministry, as well as moving to a very prejudiced city in the last year, I realized on God is all we have come to have. God being as merciful as He has been, guided me to the Home School Legal Defense Association, and we owe them a great deal of thanks. If not for them, my wife and I may have faced fines, these false criminal charges, and a criminal record. Thanks Chris Klicka and Dave Kallman, two true men of God, we are OK, and our kids continue to get the homeschooling that they deserve.

HSLDA has our support for life. Thank you a million times. May God bless each and every one of you at HSLDA with a blessing that you don't have room enough to receive.”

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