December 19, 2007

The Cost of ‘Free’ Materials

Home School Legal Defense Association member Lisa White (named changed to protect family’s privacy) recently received a packet about aids to nonpublic school students from the Minneapolis Public Schools. This packet, which describes availability of public school educational materials to homeschoolers, includes the following statement:

“Items purchased with nonpublic textbook aid funds are considered the property of the Minneapolis Public Schools. State law requires school districts to keep an inventory of materials acquired . . . Every nonpublic school should have labels for books, which say: ‘Property of Minneapolis Public Schools, Aids to Nonpublic Students.’  ”

Concerned about this apparently new requirement and uncomfortable with keeping labeled public school property in her home, Lisa contacted HSLDA. The legal assistant with whom she spoke explained that while Minnesota state law does require public schools to loan textbooks, individualized instructional materials, and standardized tests to homeschoolers, it also gives public school districts the authority to control those materials. Thus, the Minneapolis Public Schools district is not overstepping its authority by requiring textbook labeling.

Such requirements are one of the main reasons that HSLDA discourages its members from using state-purchased materials and services. In most cases, the state’s requirements limit parental freedom and control.

HSLDA does not require as a condition of membership or assistance refusal of state funds. The Home School Foundation is also available to those who may need financial assistance in paying for materials.