January 5, 2005

Department of Education Gives In

Nebraska's homeschool law was enacted in 1984, which makes it quite old when compared to homeschool laws in other states. Nebraska law was never designed to handle the types of situations that modern homeschoolers encounter every day. Over the last few years, the Nebraska Department of Education has been very slow to make allowances for the changing face of homeschooling. It has taken one homeschool family many months to persuade the Department to make a much-needed exception to the letter of the law, but the family persisted and the Department has finally given in.

April Swift (all names have been changed to protect privacy) was never married to Carl Dixon, but they have joint custody of their thirteen year old daughter, Molly. When April decided to move from California to Nebraska, she contacted the Department of Education about homeschooling, but was told that Molly's father would have to sign Form A under penalty of perjury. Form A, as most Nebraska homeschoolers know, is a "Statement of Objection and Assurances by Parent or Guardian," and requires the parent to affirm that "the requirements for school approval and accreditation required by law and the rules and regulations adopted and promulgated by the State Board of Education interfere with the decisions in directing my child's education." Mr. Dixon was willing to sign this form, but refused to sign it under oath. The Department of Education said that April couldn't homeschool her own daughter without a notarized Form A from Mr. Dixon.

It took many months, several letters, and a number of phone calls to convince the Department to reconsider their position. HSLDA made preparations to go to court and/or the Legislature. In early December, 2004, the Department finally decided to let Mr. Dixon sign a modified version of Form A, which merely stated that he was aware that the homeschool was neither approved nor accredited by the State of Nebraska. April got her official letter of acknowledgment just before Christmas.

All Nebraska homeschoolers can rejoice at this small victory. With this kind of patience and persistence, homeschoolers will keep expanding family freedoms in Nebraska.