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February 23, 2009

School District Refuses to Withdraw Student

Last summer, Amanda Shadwell (name changed to protect privacy) decided to homeschool her daughter during her high school years. In an effort to follow all relevant requirements, Ms. Shadwell familiarized herself with the Texas homeschool law and the Texas Education Agency’s information on home education.

Well before the 2008–2009 school year began, Ms. Shadwell notified the Eagle Mountain–Saginaw ISD in writing that she was withdrawing her daughter to homeschool her, according to Texas law. However, Ms. Shadwell continued to receive mail from Saginaw High School as if her daughter was still a student. When Ms. Shadwell called the high school to inquire about the situation, she was told that her daughter could not be officially removed from the attendance roster until school began for the year.

However, this is contrary to the TPA’s own literature, which states: “Students should be disenrolled by school officials when they receive written notice either by signing withdrawal forms or sending a letter of withdrawal.”

Ms. Shadwell pointed this out to school officials in a second letter, and she also wrote to the district superintendent in an attempt to resolve the matter. A month after sending these letters, the middle school that Ms. Shadwell’s daughter attended last year called her to request a notice of intent to homeschool. The school stated that they needed the notice to prevent the girl from being listed as a drop-out or truant. Before Ms. Shadwell could return the call, the school contacted every emergency contact on the student’s list in an attempt to gain information.

Ms. Shadwell then hand-delivered homeschool paperwork, including a notice of intent, to her daughter's previous school, hoping that this would conclude the matter.

Unfortunately, this was not the end. Ms. Shadwell had just returned home from her middle school deliveries when she found a notice from the high school—this time, requesting proof of immunizations. In exasperation, Ms. Shadwell contacted Home School Legal Defense Association for help.

It was now more than two months after Ms. Shadwell’s first letter and a month after school had started. HSLDA Senior Counsel Chris Klicka sent Saginaw High School’s principal a letter verifying that the girl was in fact being home educated and again requesting that she be withdrawn from public school, but the information was ignored. Only a few days later, Ms. Shadwell received another request for shot records from the high school.

Chris Klicka sent another letter in reply, and after three months of repeated attempts, Ms. Shadwell was finally able to homeschool her daughter in peace.