April 3, 2012

Judge Sides with HSLDA, Dismisses Truancy Charges

Staff attorney Darren Jones is a member of HSLDA’s litigation team. He and his wife currently homeschool. Read more >>

Home School Legal Defense Association’s representation of a homeschooling family resulted in the dismissal of truancy charges and a legal lesson for the school district.

The bullying that seventh-grader Krista Sastain (names changed to protect privacy) experienced in public school included everything from verbal threats to physical injury to her body and property. Outraged at the abuse, Paul and Debra Sastain withdrew Krista to homeschool in October of 2011.

Instead of filing a notice of intent with the local school district, the Sastains chose to homeschool under a church school, an alternative legal option in Tennessee. Once they enrolled Krista with Gateway Christian School she began excelling scholastically and emotionally. Unfortunately, the school district, unfamiliar with Tennessee law, classified Krista as truant and insisted that she participate in a homebound program administered by the public school.

When Mrs. Sastain received a court summons for contributing to her daughter’s truancy, she contacted HSLDA. We represented the Sastains at their hearing in March 2012. The school district agreed to dismiss the case, but insisted that the family file the notification of intent with the school district next year. Because homeschools can legally operate under an umbrella school, HSLDA rejected that proposal. We explained the law to the judge and showed him the statute. The judge upheld the law and clarified to the school district that the Sastains did not need to submit the notification of intent.

“The state legislature has recognized that homeschooling parents should be able to choose different options for teaching their children, depending on their children’s needs,” said HSLDA Litigation Attorney Darren Jones. “Although the school district didn’t understand what the law meant, the judge did. We are glad that Mrs. Sastain is going to be able to homeschool next year under Gateway, as is her legal right.”