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March 15, 2016

Police now Delivering Mail, Apparently

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Open up—it’s the police.

In the early morning of February 19, an HSLDA member dad was startled by a loud knocking on the door. Opening it cautiously, this homeschooling dad who had not yet left his home found a uniformed policeman with an envelope in his hand.

Mike Donnelly MIKE DONNELLY Contact attorney for Ohio

The father is a minister who had recently moved from Texas, where homeschooling families do not file any paperwork and have no formal contact with the school system. Upon arriving in Ohio this family had researched the law and properly filed a notice of intent at the beginning of the school year.

As for meeting a policeman at his front door, the dad told HSLDA that although he seemed “friendly enough, it was intimidating.” The visit also caused the mom some anxiety: “When I realized the policeman was at the door, it scared me.”

Surprised and concerned, the dad asked, “What can I help you with, officer?”

“This has something to do with homeschooling,” the officer said, handing over a sealed envelope. “I need your phone number, too, because the school wants to call you.” The officer took down the phone number and left. The father opened the letter to find a handwritten note from the superintendent’s secretary.

“[Your children] are truant,” she wrote. “Several letters have been sent to your address.”

The family’s only contact from the district had been back in October.

More Details

A few weeks after receiving the family’s notification, the district had responded with a request that they provide a more detailed curriculum outline and textbook list. Although Ohio homeschool law states that these items are for information purposes only, the family decided to provide the additional details. However, after a considerable amount of time, the school still had not sent back an excuse letter.

After six weeks the parents sent another copy of the notification, this time via certified mail. They were surprised when the notice was returned as unclaimed. Unsure what to do, they reached out to the local homeschool community and were referred to HSLDA.

“We were looking for someone who could be an advocate for us,” the mom recalled. However, she wanted to keep things positive and was concerned that involving legal counsel would escalate the situation.

Then came the special “police delivery” letter. Homeschool regulations require that letters be sent by mail. Although there was an obvious problem with the addressing and receipt of letters between the family and the school district, sending a police officer with a special delivery letter was an excessive response.

Invasive Tactics

HSLDA attorney Mike Donnelly knew that this kind of approach to communications between a homeschool family and the district needed to be addressed. He wrote to the superintendent and cautioned her that “unnecessarily invasive” tactics such as sending police to deliver a letter were not only intrusive but also improper, especially since the family had submitted everything required by law and should have already been issued an excuse letter.

Two days later, the family received the proper excuse letter, by regular mail.

The family was very relieved. “It was so reassuring to have the immediate contact from HSLDA, especially since this happened on Friday. Knowing HSLDA was involved helped settle us,” the dad recalled.

HSLDA encourages our members to contact us as soon as it appears there might be a problem with your homeschool. The earlier we are able to intervene, the quicker we can fix the problem. We have found over and over that an ounce of prevention goes a long way. We strive to provide the most responsive service to our homeschooling families, and we are never too busy for your questions. Don’t think it’s too simple. Sometimes even simple things can result in unwelcome intrusions.