Originally Sent: 9/18/2013

From the HSLDA e-lert service…
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Dubuque Intimidates Families

Homeschooling in Iowa

Remember that HSLDA is here to defend you.

Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff answers questions and assists members with legal issues in your state. He and his wife homeschooled their children.

Dear HSLDA Members:

Many Dubuque-area homeschool families have contacted us after receiving yesterday a rather frightening letter suggesting the school system would file a report “with juvenile court for truancy” if the family did not respond within a preposterously short deadline of three days, by Friday, September 20. Families who have enjoyed a friendly relationship with the school system for years have expressed shock to us over the threatening tone of the letter.

If you are operating under Option 4 (Private Instruction, not filing Form A), you can simply ignore the letter. It was intended only for families operating under Option 5 (Independent Private Instruction).

If you are operating under Option 5, you should treat the letter, if you received it, as a request for an informational report. However, I urge you to not use Dubuque’s form. No form at all is necessary!

Forms are tools of control. Agencies often manipulate forms to pressure families into giving up information to which they are not entitled. For example, the Dubuque form asks you to identify whether each child in your program is related to you. Iowa law does not require you to disclose this information. Nor does Iowa law set a deadline for responding.

If you received the Dubuque letter and are operating under Option 5, send a simple letter to Superintendent Stan Rheingans explaining that you are responding to his request for information about an Independent Private Instruction program, and then list only these four pieces of information:

  1. The primary instructor’s name (usually you, a parent);
  2. Location of the program (usually your home);
  3. Name of the authority responsible (usually you, a parent); and
  4. Name(s) of student(s) enrolled in the program.

Then add your signature and you are done. If you would like an extra level of comfort, you could send it by certified mail, but this is certainly not required.

The mailing address for Dubuque Community Schools main district office is:

2300 Chaney Road
Dubuque, Iowa 52001

Rest assured that you can disregard the absurdly short deadline of three days. Homeschool moms and dads are busy people!

The school system was simply wrong in expecting people to drop everything and jump to respond to their request as if the timing actually mattered (which it does not). If we treat this as a normal, business-like transaction, a response within 10 days would be satisfactory. Of course some folks may have been out of town on a long vacation when the letter arrived, so the school system should be prepared to have some responses come straggling in well after 10 days.

And rest assured that HSLDA will defend any HSLDA member family toward whom the school system becomes aggressive.


Scott A. Woodruff, Esq.,
Senior Counsel,
Home School Legal Defense Association

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