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June 15, 2012

On the Case:

Homeschooling Family Targeted by Truant Officer

Staff Attorney Darren Jones is a member of HSLDA’s litigation team. He and his wife homeschool.
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“I’m taking attendance. Many children in this area don’t attend school when they are supposed to,” the truant officer said to homeschooling mother Maria Veratez (names changed to protect privacy). Mrs. Veratez explained that she homeschooled her three children, but the truant officer demanded to review their curriculum or see a notification letter.

Mrs. Veratez declined to show the truant officer her children’s curriculum. She also told the officer that homeschools are considered private schools in Texas, and they do not submit a notification letter to the school district or the state. She recommended that the officer check with Home School Legal Defense Association for Texas homeschool law.

The Veratezes had never been contacted by the authorities before, and their last contact with the public school was four years ago when they withdrew their oldest from 1st grade. Her negative experience persuaded them to homeschool her and her younger siblings. Having a truant officer at the door was unprecedented.

The truant officer left, but despite Maria Veratez’s explanation of her homeschool program, she received a “parental truancy summons” to appear at a court hearing the next month. Mrs. Veratez immediately contacted HSLDA.

HSLDA’s local attorney Tom Sanders represented the family. He contacted the court, asking for the case to be dismissed and offered to present proof that the Veratezes were homeschooling legally under Texas law. He received no response from the court.

Finally, attorney Sanders was able to contact the prosecutor. In a pleasant surprise, the prosecutor had a positive working relationship with HSLDA because of a case we handled four years ago. He reviewed the motion to dismiss and agreed. On Monday, June 11, 2012, the Veratezes received official confirmation that the case was dismissed.