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July 25, 2017

Mom Charged with Truancy Because She Didn’t Fill Out an Optional Form

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Mike Donnelly by MIKE DONNELLY
Contact attorney for Michigan

When her daughter didn’t feel safe going to school, a Michigan mom formally withdrew the girl to homeschool her. But following the law wasn’t good enough for the school’s truant officer, who took the mother to court because she didn’t complete an optional form.

Throughout the fall semester, the girl had been enrolled in the local public school but had missed a number of days due to anxiety. The mom had dutifully notified the school that her daughter was unable to attend, and she sought assistance from the school to accommodate the girl’s needs.

However, by early spring semester the situation had escalated to the point where her daughter no longer felt safe returning to school. So the mom filed a formal withdrawal notice with the school, informing the principal that she would now be homeschooling her daughter.

In Michigan, parents are not required to submit any information beyond a withdrawal notice when they take a child out of school to homeschool her. However, the truant officer sent the mom a “declaration of home schooling” form and told her to submit it within two weeks.

When it became apparent the mom was not going to submit the optional form, the officer ignored the usual legal process for truancy concerns and instead filed a legal complaint for truancy.

The mom received a notice to appear in court and immediately contacted HSLDA. We called our local counsel in Michigan, an expert in defending homeschooling families. He demonstrated to the prosecutor that the family was complying with Michigan law and that truancy charges were inappropriate. After talking with our local counsel, the prosecutor agreed to drop the case.