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May 31, 2017

District Stalls for Years over Simple Form Letter

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Mike Donnelly MIKE DONNELLY Contact attorney for Ohio

After a two-year fight, one Ohio family finally has their excuse letter in hand.

When their child reached compulsory school attendance age, the family filed homeschool notification with their local school district as required by Ohio law. Instead of receiving the expected letter of excuse, they received a request for proof of residency from the local public school superintendent—information which the law does not require.

As HSLDA members, the parents contacted us. I reviewed the notification they had sent to the school district and confirmed that they had included everything required by Ohio law. I wrote to the superintendent and the school’s attorney explaining that Ohio regulations simply require the parent’s name and address, not specific proof of residency.

The school left the family alone, but failed to issue the excuse letter.

More Stonewalling

At the beginning of the current school year the family filed their annual notification. Again, the district responded with a demand for proof of residency, claiming it was necessary for the superintendent to issue a valid excuse. After speaking with the family, I proposed that the parents verify their residency by signing for a certified letter from the district.

The district refused this offer, so HSLDA determined additional action was necessary. We have a network of local attorneys throughout the states, so I asked a local Ohio attorney to join me in fighting this bullying district.

We prepared another letter making clear that we were willing to take the matter to court to enforce the superintendent’s responsibility to issue the excuse letter to the family. At this point, the district decided it was not willing to risk litigation. The superintendent agreed to take our earlier offer to sign for a certified letter.

Finally, in March 2017, the family received their long-awaited excuse letter from the superintendent, providing them with the official documentation of their compliance with Ohio’s homeschool law.

Most districts aren’t as stubborn as this family’s district was, but if you encounter any difficulties over homeschool paperwork with your district, please let us know.