February 12, 2008

Homeschool Family Faces $7,000 Fine

In January and February of 2007, the El Paso School District contacted the McIntyre family twice about their homeschooling their seven children.

HSLDA Senior Counsel Chris Klicka wrote twice to the school district, indicating that the family was in compliance with Texas law as set forth in the Leeper case. This case declared that in the state of Texas homeschools are private schools. Nonetheless, the El Paso School District went forward and brought criminal charges against the family for “failing to meet homeschool verification requirements.” They also brought multiple truancy charges against the family for the various children.

HSLDA Texas counsel Tom Sanders had several conference calls with the prosecutor over the next several months. The prosecutor told Sanders that he would drop the charges if he could just get an official letter to verify that the family was homeschooling. Sanders argued Klicka had already written the school district such a letter on their behalf. Finally, in September of 2007, the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case. On the charges, he personally wrote “no convictions” and commented that he would have pursued the case, except “his star witness would not testify!”

However, in October 2007, the family received a letter from an attorney who worked for the county to collect fines. In the attorney’s letter to the McIntyres, he said “our law firm has been hired to represent El Paso County in the collection and disposition of the above listed matter.” He went on to warn that the family they had 10 days to pay the fines that had been levied against four of the seven children. The fines totaled over $7,000.

After many attempts to contact the attorney in charge of collecting fines, Tom Sanders wrote a letter explaining that the case was dismissed.

After contacting the prosecuting attorney again, a formal “motion to dismiss” was filed and signed by the assistant district attorney. It was then signed by the judge dismissing the case—in November of 2007 after 10 months!

We praise God for this victory. The McIntyres continue to homeschool—only now without being harassed.