Jail Time

February 2, 2016

Parents Face Jail Time for Missing Deadline

Late Paperwork Equated to Creating Delinquents

Each summer, HSLDA fields hundreds of contacts from homeschooling families who are navigating their state’s notice requirements for the very first time.  Even when a family may have missed a key filing deadline these situations can often be quickly corrected.  And usually, if the family resolves the issue promptly, state officials rarely pursue further action—like criminal prosecution—against the parents.

Peter Kamakawiwoole
Peter Kamakawiwoole


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Unless you happen to live in Ohio.

This past month, two Ohio families from two separate school districts contacted HSLDA after they were served with criminal complaints with similar facts.

And under the charges they face, these families could be fined tens of thousands of dollars and be sent to jail for more than a decade.

Both families were somewhat new to homeschooling in Ohio. One family filed a notice of intent when they began homeschooling last year, but did not know they had to file another notice for this school year. The other family filed their annual notice of intent, but did not submit an educational assessment with their notice because they had not yet completed it, and had been told by their school district that there was no deadline for submitting the assessment.

Even though both families continued to educate their children, their school districts decided to treat the children as “truant.” The schools also waited to contact the families until the children had accumulated more than a month of “absences,” instead of addressing the issue when the school began marking the children “absent.”

As soon as both families realized their errors, they took action to comply with their districts’ demands. After filing the paperwork, both families received a letter from their superintendent verifying that their homeschool program is in compliance with state law for the 2015-2016 school year. Then they brought criminal charges against the parents.

The criminal charge is “contributing to the delinquency of a minor,” a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of up to $1,000 in fines and up to six months in the county jail. Each day that a child is “truant” can be considered a separate offense.

There is no question that homeschooling families have to meet certain filing requirements in Ohio, and this statute’s primary purpose is to deal with parents who ignore their responsibilities to direct the upbringing and education of their children. But that is not what is happening here. When schools use this statute to prosecute families for what amounts to a simple clerical error, the response is disproportionate and draconian. HSLDA’s litigation team is hard at work preparing a rigorous legal challenge to these charges, which will be tried later this month.

HSLDA’s litigation efforts depend entirely on the support of our 80,000 member families across the country, as well as the generous friends of homeschooling who give to the Homeschool Freedom Fund. Would you consider partnering with us in defense of homeschool freedom? When you join HSLDA, give the gift of membership to someone you love, or make a tax-deductible donation to our litigation work through the Homeschool Freedom Fund, you make it possible for us to advance the cause of liberty in real, tangible ways, and to defend the rights of those who cannot speak for themselves.