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South Dakota

January 11, 2012

Relative’s “Complaint” Launches State-Level Inquiry

A relative of HSLDA member Laura Howard (name changed to protect privacy) complained to the local school system in southeast South Dakota about Laura’s homeschooling. The local superintendent sent the complaint, with some other information available to him, to the South Dakota Secretary of Education. A representative of the state then asked Howard to send her homeschool records so the state could examine them.

Howard asked Home School Legal Defense Association to help. Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff prepared a letter to the state. Under South Dakota statute 13-27-3, the state can ask a family for records only if there is “probable cause” to believe the family is out of compliance.

The state replied and listed information that, while highly doubtful, would likely amount to probable cause. On Woodruff’s recommendation, Howard sent the state the attendance and progress records required under 13-27-3.

After a lengthy hiatus, the local school superintendent asked Howard for additional information. Under the law, the local school system has no authority to request information—only the state. On Woodruff’s recommendation, Howard did not give the superintendent the additional information he requested.

The local superintendent dropped the matter. So did the state. Howard’s homeschool program remained fully protected.