April 1, 2002

Texas Court Issues Summons for Withdrawing Child

After home schooling for several years in Arizona, Mr. Candler* was transferred to a new job in Lewisville, TX, where he and his wife decided to enroll their children in the Denton County Public Schools.

The problems began almost immediately. "I noticed my oldest daughter was frequently coming home very upset and would usually immediately go to the back bedroom and slam the door," Mrs. Candler* said. "One afternoon, my daughter said that school was a complete joke and she wasn't learning anything." The girl began to spill out her troubles-the chaotic condition of classes, the boys who pushed her around and tried to take her backpack and purse, and the constant teasing and mocking her that she was a virgin.

The mother finally decided to resume home schooling. She notified the school district and withdrew her children. Three weeks later, the Candlers received a court summons, charging them with willfully failing to require their oldest daughter to attend school. At the first hearing, the judge came down hard, questioning their right to home school.

Obviously, home schooling families in Texas are exempt from compulsory attendance laws. However, upon a closer look at the documents surrounding the charges, HSLDA discovered that the family had an additional excuse for the truancy charges-their daughter had been out sick for three days before being withdrawn.

In a follow-up meeting a few days later, HSLDA contacted the judge and explained that the truancy charges were unfounded and that the family had a fundamental and statutory right to home school. We then documented these facts in a letter to the judge, who according to Mrs. Candler, "completely changed her tune" and was almost apologetic. The judge confirmed the family's right to home school and dropped the charges.

* Name has been changed to protect family's privacy.