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West Virginia

October 21, 2014

Public School Wants Homeschoolers Back


Staff Attorney Mike Donnelly answers questions and assists members regarding legal issues in West Virginia. He and his wife homeschool in the Mountain State. Read more >>

The homeschooling community in Ritchie County has grown fast, and officials concerned with funding impacts have apparently ordered a campaign to persuade parents to put their kids back in public school.

Ed Toman, Ritchie County superintendent of schools, allegedly ordered members of his staff to contact homeschoolers to convince them that they should re-enroll their children in his school system. Reports indicate that county homeschooling families are getting calls from officials who have questioned parents’ competency and asked questions like “what can we do to get your kids back in school?”

Disturbing Pattern

Some homeschooling parents who spoke with HSLDA and requested anonymity described a pattern of intimidation or harassment.

“I’ve received several calls from the school district,” one HSLDA member family said. “One family told me that they had gotten so many calls at their place of employment that their work supervisor was asking questions about the calls.”

“Some families who met at the start of the year with counselors about homeschooling were told teachers would lose their jobs because their kids were being homeschooled. They didn’t seem at all interested in the fact that parents were leaving the system because they were fed up with problems,” she continued. “I told the school district that they were misusing our private information and that we wouldn’t stand for them infringing our rights to homeschool.”

Reason for Concern

HSLDA is concerned about this and other evidence of increasing hostility toward home education in some areas of West Virginia.

“I’ve had more contact this year than any other from West Virginia homeschooling families and those interested in homeschooling,” said HSLDA Staff Attorney Michael Donnelly. “What I have seen and heard concerns me. Some courts and county attendance officers, mostly in southern West Virginia, are using a variety of court-related procedures to impose unwarranted obstacles to homeschooling. In some cases uninformed school officials are also creating unnecessary conflicts with the homeschool community. Unfortunately these state authorities are not respecting the right of parents to make these decisions.”

“I would like to see the legislature take up this issue in the near future. Homeschooling families in some parts of West Virginia are being subjected to unreasonable intrusions. I’m concerned that this could spread to other areas of the state, if not checked,” he said. “Regardless, HSLDA is ready to defend our member families who encounter difficulties with the authorities over homeschooling.”

Local homeschoolers plan to attend a public meeting with the Ritchie County Board of Education 6 p.m. Monday, October 27, 2014, at Harrisville Elementary School. HSLDA encourages homeschoolers in the area to attend, show their support for homeschooling freedom, and ask the board to stop the superintendent from badgering homeschooling families.

For more information about the meeting contact Susie Pierce, a local homeschooling mom, who has agreed to speak publically to the board about the issue. She can be reached at Susiemk@hotmail.com.

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