November 19, 2003

Minnesota District Confused About Student Status

Homeschoolers in Minnesota worked hard to see Minnesota Statutes 123B.49, Subd. 4(a) enacted into law in 1999. That law states, "The board shall allow all resident pupils receiving instruction in a home school as defined in section 123B.36, subdivision 1, paragraph (a), to be eligible to fully participate in extracurricular activities on the same basis as public school students."

An alert homeschooler in Hector, Minnesota was therefore surprised to read in her local paper that the Buffalo Lake- Hector School Board had decided to start charging homeschooled students $400 to take behind-the-wheel driver's ed classes, while publicly-enrolled students would only pay $200. Upon further inquiry, she learned that the board had made the change in response to a written request by a local "homeschool" family.

When HSLDA attorney Scott Somerville learned of this change, he wrote a letter to BL-H School Superintendent Rick Clark, bringing the relevant law to his attention and inquiring as to the reasoning behind the change. On November 13, 2003 Superintendent Clark responded with a letter explaining that there had been some confusion regarding terminology. The school board's action was taken in response to a request, not from a homeschooler, but from a public school student attending a charter school full-time outside the school district. The district recognized that homeschoolers must be allowed to participate in driver training on the same basis as regularly enrolled students, but that non-resident charter school students have no such right.

Our alert member went to the next BL-H School Board meeting to make sure the district got the issue right. She wanted to make sure that homeschooled students would not be confused with charter school students in the future. If the school board's precisely worded statements and carefully chosen words were any indication, the board was now very well informed about homeschoolers' rights. In this school district, all it took to protect the rights of homeschoolers was one concerned citizen and one letter from HSLDA.