New Jersey
New Jersey

July 15, 2008
Give My Regards to Broadway—And Please Forget about Us

Moving to a new state should be simple for homeschool families since, like a snail with its shell, they take their educational program with them wherever they go. But when the previous home state has an exaggerated view of its duties, tensions can arise.

The Martinez family (name changed to protect their privacy) sent a letter to the Lower Manhattan Director of Homeschooling explaining that they were moving to New Jersey. They intentionally did not include their new street address, because they did not want to be harassed.

The Lower Manhattan Director of Homeschooling called Mrs. Martinez and said he wanted proof of the children’s new address and school address. He wanted a letter from the local Board of Education in New Jersey confirming that the Martinez children had been registered to homeschool. She responded and said that she was following the advice of Homeschool Legal Defense Association. He said that’s fine, but that his office still needed proof that the Martinez children were okay, or it would be like they fell off the face of the earth. He said if the family did not give him this information, he would go to court against them for educational neglect.

Mrs. Martinez called HSLDA for help. HSLDA attorney Scott Woodruff called the director of homeschooling. He said he could not take the children’s names out of the district’s computer system until he had a new address. When Woodruff insisted that their names be taken out of the system even without a street address, the director transferred Woodruff up the chain of command.

Woodruff explained to this official that the family’s new street address was none of his concern. The official asked if the family was registered to homeschool in New Jersey, and said he was only concerned about their “safety.” He did not explain why moving to New Jersey should abruptly cause a safety concern. Woodruff explained that whether the children were “registered” to homeschool in New Jersey was a private matter and none of his concern. New Jersey families understand, of course, that no “registration” is required.

The official said the children’s names would be removed.