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New Jersey

May 22, 2006
Family ‘ In Trouble,’ Threatened with Magistrate

Six months after the school year started, the Tesch family of Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey, received a letter from the school superintendent threatening to turn them over to the town magistrate if they did not submit an outline of their curriculum and a letter of intent to homeschool.

Even though she was a certified teacher, Mrs. Tesch felt intimidated. “Oh, boy, we're in trouble. What did we do?” she wondered. She was ready to give the superintendent everything he wanted.

Two families told her to call Home School Legal Defense Association for help instead. One of the families had been harassed and received a similar threat, and HSLDA had intervened and persuaded the official to withdraw his threat. Both families told her she should not homeschool without being a member of HSLDA.

Mrs. Tesch applied to join HSLDA. Although HSLDA has the right to reject applications from families already in legal situations, attorney Scott Woodruff approved her application to join in this case.

We contacted the superintendent and explained New Jersey homeschool law to him. He acknowledged he had no authority to make the demands and he dropped his threats.

Later Mrs. Tesch and her son were in a library when the local public school dismissed its students. As the library filled with 10- to 12-year-olds, she and her son noticed that almost every other word they used was a profanity, vulgarity or obscenity. “It was absolutely horrendous,” she said, “You never heard such language coming out of the mouths of children.”

This incident powerfully reminded her and her son, who is excelling academically, that only parents can teach youngsters right from wrong, including habits of speaking that are honorable, civil, and considerate of others. It reminded them why they choose to homeschool despite occasional obstacles such as the superintendent's threat.

When her relatives later said, “We're concerned about your son because he's not in public school,” it was easy for her to reply.

The family has heard nothing further from the superintendent.