October 24, 2008

Truant Officer Threatens Court Action over Absences for Illness

For the past two years, Illinois teenager Margaret (name changed to protect privacy) has struggled with chronic illnesses, which caused multiple absences from public school. To accommodate Margaret’s health needs while ensuring that she receives a good education, Margaret’s parents decided to homeschool her. Following proper procedure, the family submitted a letter of withdrawal to the principal of the public school Margaret attended and began teaching their daughter at home.

However, the DeKalb County truant officer repeatedly called the family, threatening legal action. She had been tracking Margaret’s absences for the past two years and continued to harass the family about them, despite the fact that Margaret’s parents had obtained doctor’s excuses for nearly every one. The officer also demanded that the family obtain approval from the local school district to homeschool Margaret or risk being summoned to court. She then referred the situation to the assistant superintendent.

The family contacted HSLDA Senior Counsel Chris Klicka, who wrote a letter to the assistant superintendent and truant officer. Klicka explained that Illinois law does not require parents to obtain approval to homeschool, nor does it require notification that a parent is homeschooling. He verified that Margaret’s family is in full compliance with the requirements of Illinois law and demanded that the truant officer cease harassing the family.

To date, the family has not heard back from any school official.