April 25, 2008
Memphis Official Resists Obeying Law

HSLDA assisted a member family in Memphis this spring when a public school official initially refused to comply with state law. Tennessee law clearly states that the teaching parent may be present when a homeschool student in the fifth grade is being administered a standardized test at the public school. However, an elementary school principal in Memphis refused to permit a mother to be present while her daughter was being administered such a test.

When the mother contacted Home School Legal Defense Association for assistance, Senior Counsel Dewitt Black immediately faxed a letter to the principal and enclosed a copy of the statutory language giving the parent the right to be present during the testing. Not satisfied with this information, the principal contacted an employee of the evaluation and assessment division of the Tennessee Department of Education for further guidance. The department employee erroneously advised the principal that he could exclude the parent from being present during her daughter’s testing. After the anxious mother reported this development to HSLDA, Black placed a call to Christy Ballard, general counsel of the department of education, advising her that an employee of the department had given erroneous information to the public school principal about the parent’s right to be present during the testing. Ballard immediately contacted the misinformed employee who, in turn, contacted the school principal in Memphis and reversed the earlier advice. As a result, the HSLDA member was able to join her daughter in the testing session which had already begun.

All of this took place over the course of about two hours, showing that even the wheels of justice can move quickly at times. Our gratitude goes to the general counsel at the department of education for her courteous and prompt assistance in resolving this difficulty encountered by a homeschooling family.