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October 24, 2016

Homeschool Students Targeted in “Operation Round Up”

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Tj Schmidt TJ SCHMIDT Contact attorney for Florida

Homeschooling families in Jackson County were probably a little shocked last month to hear that their children would be considered fair game for a countywide truancy initiative called “Operation Round Up.”

A member family contacted HSLDA after watching a local television news report about the initiative, featuring an interview with the Jackson County School Board’s director of student services. During the interview, the director encouraged local citizens to contact her if they suspected that a student in the community was truant.

Surprisingly, the director mentioned homeschooling families: “[Homeschooling families are] not set on a particular schedule, so sometimes the community will see them around town, and they think, ‘Hey, they aren’t being educated.’ Sometimes the community is right.”

The news report went on to say that the “school board still encourages people to speak up with their suspicions [about homeschoolers].” You can view the full report here.

After being contacted by our member family, HSLDA Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt wrote a letter to the director and the Jackson County superintendent. In it, he expressed great concern at the problems Operation Round Up could cause for local homeschooling families.

“Your statements suggest that everyone should report children they think aren’t being educated,” Schmidt wrote the director. “In our opinion, this is a threatening practice, and will instill a spirit of suspicion and hostility against homeschoolers in the community.”

Schmidt concluded his letter by offering to provide Jackson County and all those involved with Operation Round Up information that will help them interact with local homeschooling families while maintaining respect for their rights.

We expect Schmidt’s letter will help improve the relationship between school officials and homeschooling families in Jackson County. You can read the letter here.

HSLDA is grateful for the vigilance of our member who tipped us off to Operation Round Up and the troubling statements surrounding it. If you see, hear, or read a media report about homeschooling in your area that gives you concern, be sure to contact us about it so we can help set the record straight.