July 16, 2001

Massachusetts: Westford Policy Violates State Law

At the beginning of July, the Westford School District sent a letter to home schooling families informing them of changes in the district's policy. Home School Legal Defense Association responded on our members' behalf, explaining that several of the new provisions conflicted with Massachusetts home school law.

The new policy requires that parents "file a written letter of intent," as well as present "a written application." Also, the policy states that "Once the letter of intent is received, a meeting will be scheduled with the Superintendent or designee to discuss the educational plan . . . ."

HSLDA wrote to Westford immediately. We explained that in 1987 the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, in the case of Care and Protection of Charles, ruled that a superintendent or school committee can impose only such requirements as are "essential" to state interests.

A policy requiring two separate filings every year is definitely not essential. Additionally, a meeting with parents cannot be considered essential, because a simple exchange of written correspondence is sufficient to handle all administrative matters.

HSLDA has offered to help the district revise their policy, and we are currently awaiting their response.