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Pennsylvania

January 5, 2016

Homeschool Mom “Not Guilty”

HSLDA Defends Our Member in Court

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When is a non-homeschooler still a homeschooler? According to one public school district in Pennsylvania, whether you are currently homeschooling is not as important as whether officials want to charge you with truancy.

This odd interpretation arose recently when HSLDA successfully defended a member in court.

YOUR ATTORNEY Darren Jones Darren Jones

A single mother had fought with the local public school for years, trying to get proper services for her gifted and special needs sons. In the fall of 2014, she finally decided to try homeschooling her sons, so that she could give them the individual attention they needed. HSLDA assisted her in filing the extra paperwork that Pennsylvania law requires for homeschooling special needs students, and she began homeschooling her sons.

In February 2015, the homeschooling mother found a local charter school that would both allow her to continue teaching her sons at home and provide the services that she had begged her local public school for. Thrilled with getting what she believed to be the best of both worlds, our member enrolled her sons. She showed the charter school evidence of work they had completed in the months of homeschooling, and the boys began their new regimen.

Making Demands

But the school district did not want to give up so easily. At the end of the school year, even though the boys had been in a public charter school for four months, the school district wrote a letter demanding that the mother comply with the homeschool law and submit an evaluator’s report documenting their homeschooling progress. When she chose not to do so, since the boys were now public school students, the school district filed truancy charges against her.

HSLDA represented our member in court, since the charges were based exclusively on the time that she was homeschooling. At the trial, the school district told the judge that even though the boys were in school now, “she can’t get away with not filing an evaluation!”

Our local counsel then pointed out that the Pennsylvania homeschool law requires school districts to set a hearing before the local school board if they are unsatisfied with the evaluation, rather than jumping right to truancy charges. He handed the judge a copy of the homeschool law with the administrative procedure prominently highlighted.

Sticking to the Law

The judge turned to the school district representative and asked, “Did you ever call for a school board hearing when you didn’t get an evaluation?” When told that this never happened, the judge said, “Well, the law requires it. I’m finding her not guilty!”

Outside the courtroom afterwards, the school district representative was obviously upset as he complained to his attorney about the result. Our member, though, was delighted, as she and her boys left the courtroom to continue their schoolwork at home for the rest of the day.

This case illustrates how far we will go to defend our members against government overreach. If you want this protection for your family as you teach your children at home, join HSLDA today!