August 15, 2012

Bank Drops GED Demand After HSLDA Intervenes

Scott Woodruff answers questions and assists members with legal issues in Missouri. He and his wife homeschooled their children. Read more >>

After Hawthorn Bank hired M.D., a homeschool graduate, they followed routine and asked an outside agency to verify her credentials. The agency subsequently informed Hawthorn that they could not validate M.D.’s parent-issued diploma because the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) did not recognize it.

Even though M.D. had passed all her employment-related tests with flying colors, and the bank liked her work, a Hawthorn representative told her that since her position required a high school diploma or GED, they would terminate her employment if she did not obtain a GED. M.D. asked Home School Legal Defense Association for help.

HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff wrote a detailed letter to Hawthorn confirming the validity of M.D.’s diploma and pointing out that the outside agency had erred. He explained that any entity that can lawfully operate a high school program—including homeschool parents—has the inherent authority to issue a diploma when the program is completed. He pointed out that DESE, however, has no statutory authority to “recognize” any high school diploma.

Woodruff told Hawthorn that Missouri state law promotes equality in that it prohibits state and local government agencies from discriminating between homeschool, private school, or public school graduates in employment. He also noted that U.S. national policy (military, college financial aid), is strongly oriented toward equal treatment of homeschool graduates.

He explained that homeschool graduates score higher on college admissions tests, are warmly welcomed by colleges, and even have higher college grade point averages than others. On the other hand, Woodruff noted, a GED can stigmatize a student and limit his future opportunities.

After receiving Woodruff’s letter, Hawthorn reevaluated the situation and told M.D. that she would not need to get a GED. We appreciate the bank’s willingness to take a second look at this issue.