September 11, 2003

Intimidation Fails to Bow Homeschool Family

A member family in Lakin, Kansas, pulled their four boys out of public school in November of 2002. Their 9-yr old son continued receiving speech therapy through the school. After subsequently withdrawing him, however, the family's ordeal of harassment began.

On August 18, Lakin Elementary School Principal Dirk Schneider and the school librarian came to this family's home. The principal told the family, "It is damaging for your children not to be in a social environment. Their friends miss them."

The next day they came again, along with a special education teacher. The three of them applied more pressure--subtle and not-so-subtle.

Later one of the school's first grade teacher's told the children, "You like homeschooling because you don't have a real teacher." Schneider tried a different strategy, and offered the Mother a job at the school, and told her, "Your nephew is in public school, so you should trust us with your children, too."

Not willing to accept that this family (and the money they represented) had slipped out of their grasp forever, the school system filed a welfare and truancy report. As a result, the family was forced to endure a humiliating home visit from a deputy sheriff on September 4.

After that, it seemed like the whole town knew about "the problem." The family feared to venture out during school hours. Instead of bowing to this financially-motivated pressure, however, they sought legal advice.

Staff attorney Scott Woodruff contacted Mr. Schneider and informed him that his visits were unwelcome, that the harassment must stop, and that the school's onerous actions were exposing the entire school district to the risk of litigation.

Pressure and intimidation of homeschool families was once common. Now it is infrequent, occurring especially in rural districts with shrinking populations, where every enrollment is jealously guarded to protect the money that pays the salaries of the bureaucrats who educate fewer and fewer students.

If Schneider is prudent, he will apologize to the family and never cloud their lives again.