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HSLDA Appeals After Board Tries to Shut Down a Homeschool
Home School Legal Defense Association has come to the aid of a member family in West Warwick after the school committee rescinded approval of the family's homeschool program.
The Fooks family filed a plan that included submitting a single year-end assessment, which the school committee approved. When the Superintendent threatened to ask the school committee to rescind their approval on the basis that the family was not submitting a mid-year assessment, HSLDA attorney Scott Woodruff wrote him a letter. Woodruff explained that the family was following the plan the school committee had approved, and assured him the family would submit a year-end assessment, as the plan called for.
The Superintendent repeated his demand for a mid-year assessment and his recision threat. Woodruff wrote a seven-point letter carefully outlining why recision would be wrong. He explained:
- The family was following an approved plan.
- Rhode Island statutes do not give school committees power to rescind approval during the school year once it has been given.
- The family had submitted year-end assessments in previous years, and these were always accepted.
- The school committee has no written policy requiring more than one assessment per year.
- Since the family is homeschooling in response to a call from God, their homeschool program is entitled to the protection of Rhode Island's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RIGL 42-80.1 et seq.). This act prohibits an agency from restricting the exercise of religious freedom unless it is essential to furthering a compelling governmental interest, and a less restrictive option is not available.
- The family has a right to direct the education of their children under the Fourteenth Amendment.
- The Rhode Island homeschool statute is unconstitutional because it creates standards which cannot be objectively and consistently be administered.
Following the wishes of the Superintendent, the school committee voted 5-0 to rescind approval of the family's homeschool program. HSLDA is now in the process of appealing this unjust decision to the Rhode Island Commissioner of Education.
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