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New Jersey

August 22, 2006
Berlin Backtracks on State Law 'Requirement'

The Williamsons had been homeschooling for three years when they unexpectedly received a letter from the Berlin Borough school district superintendent saying, “...the State of New Jersey requires that you submit a letter to my attention advising me of your decision to home-school ... annually.”

This member family had never submitted an annual notice before. They suspected that a complaint from a disgruntled relative may have prompted the superintendent’s troubling request. They asked Home School Legal Defense Association for assistance.

Staff attorney Scott Woodruff wrote to the superintendent explaining that New Jersey law does not, in fact, require families to send notice to superintendents. Without apologizing or acknowledging that his first letter misrepresented state law, he wrote back and said, “I realize the State does not require a parent to notify the school district ... however, notification is encouraged.”

If he had only meant to “encourage” the filing of a notice, it would have been appropriate to make a courteous request that acknowledged that notice is optional, rather than say the state “required” it.

This family’s alert refusal to acquiesce to the unauthorized demand will help protect the freedom of all families in Berlin.