April 6, 2011

Family Gets a Visit from the Police

Imagine that you have decided to homeschool your children. You have researched all that you need to do. You have properly notified the public school of your intent to enroll your children in a private school/homeschool prior to the beginning of the next school year. You have withdrawn your children from the IEP (a special education evaluation). You think you have covered all your bases, and you set out on this new adventure—homeschooling.

Thanksgiving rolls by. Christmas comes and goes. It’s March and spring is around the corner. You’ve almost reached the finish line of your first year of homeschooling when a school official and police officer show up at your door. They claim that they are looking for your children since they are not registered at the public school. Fortunately for you, you have covered your bases, filed your private school affidavit and can show proof that your children are enrolled in a private school.

You think, “I really should go down to the school and make sure everything is in order,” and you speak to your contact in the special education department. You’re informed officials there were a week away from turning you over to the district attorney in Fullerton for prosecution for truancy.

But you are also an HSLDA member. We advise you that you’ve done all the right things and the school was at fault for taking seven months to realize the children were “missing.”

In California, a public school can’t just turn a family over to the district attorney for truancy prosecution. There is a process in place for dealing with truancy. It includes calling the family before the School Attendance Review Board to determine why the child is truant and to see if the situation cannot be remedied. In the most persistent cases of truancy, they would refer the family to the district attorney for prosecution. Apparently, however, not all school officials are aware of their responsibilities under the law.