April 15, 2002

Arrested Home Schooling Mom Vindicated

After months of battling over whether an attendance officer violated an innocent home school mom's constitutional rights by having her arrested, the officer has finally agreed to settle the case.

On August 24, 2000, new home schooling mom Teresa Horn from Bolivar, Tennessee was arrested for "violating the compulsory attendance law." A Hardeman County Sheriff's Deputy surprised Teresa and her husband Terry with a warrant for Teresa's arrest signed by local attendance officer, Charlie Brown. Mrs. Horn was arrested in front of her three sons, ages 5, 3, and 1, and taken to the Sheriff's Department. There she was booked, fingerprinted and had her "mug shot" taken.

Although Mrs. Horn faced jail for these charges, the deputy who arrested her urged that a citation to be given to her instead. Mrs. Horn was cited and finally released that same evening. Two friends picked her up at the Sheriff's Department, because her husband was at home comforting their sons. The Horns didn't want to further distress the boys by taking them to pick up their mother at the Sheriff's office.

After being released later that night, Mrs. Horn contacted Home School Legal Defense Association. Mr. Brown agreed to dismiss all charges a few weeks later on October 16, 2000, yet the Horns felt they were entitled to restitution for the trauma Mr. Brown caused their family. HSLDA filed suit on her behalf in March 2001 against Mr. Brown.

The Horns' oldest child is not yet compulsory attendance age (6). Attendance Officer Charlie Brown admitted that he knew this. He claimed that a relative of Mrs. Horn "wanted the child in school," so he prosecuted the family because their 5 year old was not enrolled.

The Horns learned during the legal proceedings that Mrs. Horn 's mother, called Brown, who is responsible for enforcing the compulsory attendance law in the district, and told him that the boy had to be enrolled in school since he was five years old. Without even bothering to check if she was correct, the officer filed a warrant for Mrs. Horn's arrest for truancy.

One year and many legal disputes later, the Mr. Brown and the Horns have agreed to settle the case.

HSLDA will continue to defend our members' right to teach their children at home free from unwarranted government intrusion. If you are a member and you face an over-zealous school official like this, please contact us so that we can assist you.