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The Ericsons' son was 11 months old when they adopted him, but he was not eating solid food and was only functioning at the level of a 2-month-old. With lots of parental love and attention, he was soon eating solid food and catching up nicely.
After the Ericsons enrolled him in the local public school, however, a troubling pattern began to develop. The school said he could not count to 20, but at home, he could count to 100. The teachers said could not read even basic sight words, but at home he was reading simple books.
The Ericsons learned that a student on the school bus, an avid reader of the popular Harry Potter books, was threatening to send dragons at night to rip off their son's flesh. The Ericsons also believed the teachers were inappropriately using physical restraint on their son and suspected they had misdiagnosed his needs. They decided they could no longer in good conscience leave their son in public school. They withdrew him to begin a homeschool program.
They received a letter from the Director of Special Services soon thereafter telling them that the district was still obligated to "account" for their son. School officials proposed modifying his special education plan to place him in "child find status" since the parents wanted to homeschool him. They insisted that the parents sign a form acknowledging this. There was no explanation of what it might meant to place their son in "child find status."
After Home School Legal Defense Association inquired, the director explained that being placed in "child find status" meant that the child "remains the responsibility of the Amherst, NH school district until such time as he moves from the district, is discharged as no longer needing special services, receives a high school diploma, or turns 21."
HSLDA Attorney Scott Woodruff wrote the director, explaining that no law or regulation required the family to sign the form or acknowledge the district's supposed continuing responsibility. The director wrote back and acknowledged that the family did not need to sign the form. She then demanded that the family submit a curriculum scope and sequence.
Woodruff wrote back and explained that this was not necessary since the student was not yet even of compulsory attendance age. (As of May 12, 2006, the requirement to submit a scope and sequence is abolished for all families.)
The matter now appears to be fully resolved. The Ericson family's courageous refusal to sign a form acknowledging the district's responsibility for their son will help protect other families from such unauthorized demands.
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