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Massachusetts

April 6, 2001
In re Care and Protection of Megan
School district alleges child in need of care and protection

Filed: November 13, 2000, Northampton.

Nature of Case: When Megan's mother decided to begin home schooling, she provided the Northampton School Department, in accordance with the law, with a list of texts and materials for history, science, math, language arts, spelling, art, and music. Not satisfied, the school district filed a petition alleging that Megan is a child who needs care and protection.

But some of Northampton's requirements for home school applicants exceed state law. For instance, the district requires parents to meet with the superintendent to clarify the responsibility of the school committee and the parents. In addition, parents must provide the number of hours of daily instruction. The district also demands "access to the textbooks, workbooks and other instructional aids to be used by the children and the lesson plans and teaching manuals to be used by the parents." Finally, Northampton Public Schools insists "that the superintendent or school committee may require periodic standardized testing of the children to ensure educational progress and the attainment of minimum standards." HSLDA believes these requirements are neither reasonable nor essential.

With the care and protection case pending, HSLDA and our member met with the school district. After additional assurances from Megan's mother regarding the home instruction, the school's attorney issued a letter on January 10, 2001, approving her home instruction program.

Ruling: The judge postponed the proceeding for several months during which time the home instruction program will go forward.

Status: The judge dismissed the case at a hearing on April 6, 2001.

Last Updated: April 6, 2001.