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November 8, 2017

Homeschool Mom Uncovers District’s Foul Play

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DAN BEASLEY
Contact attorney for Wyoming

Camille Howard was told that her son could not qualify for free classes at the local community college because he was homeschooled.

That didn’t sound right to her, so she looked up the rules. What she discovered was a clear-cut case of discrimination.

Laramie County School District No. 1’s post-secondary enrollment options (PSEO) program pays tuition and fees for certain high school students who take courses at Laramie County Community College (LCCC). However, the district had worked out a separate agreement with LCCC that required parents of homeschooled high school students to pay tuition and fees for the college classes, instead of the district covering those payments as they did for students enrolled in public school.

Based on previous experience with the PSEO program, Mrs. Howard thought that eligibility was dependent on residence—not enrollment—in the local school district. She was right. And her confidence to challenge her son’s denial of benefits was boosted when she read about a similar situation that Home School Legal Defense Association helped resolve in 2015.

An Issue of Fairness

Her research revealed that Wyoming statutes do not place an enrollment restriction on participation in the PSEO program. On the contrary, the law specifically forbids school districts assessing these fees to parents. They are allowed to treat homeschool students as district students for purposes of the PSEO class only, which helps adjust funding.

Mrs. Howard reached out to school officials via email and provided links to official information about the program. But she was met with disappointment once again.

On a conference call with two school officials, she was told that because her son was not enrolled in the public school, the school district would not sign the forms necessary to provide funding for his classes through the PSEO program.

At the same time, Mrs. Howard was feeling pressure from LCCC because the payments for tuition and fees were due and her son could not register for classes for the next semester until the fees were paid.

That’s when Mrs. Howard decided to join HSLDA.

She had been homeschooling for years and had previously used some of HSLDA’s services that are available to non-members, but she had not joined because she didn’t understand the full scope of services we offer.

Getting the Help She Needed

“I didn’t really know the scope of everything you do,” Mrs. Howard told me over the phone. “I saw you as a group that handled legal things [in court], but you do a lot more than I thought.”

After I contacted the school officials and followed up with a letter highlighting applicable provisions in Wyoming law, the school district changed its position.

I got to call Mrs. Howard and explain that her son’s fees would be paid for by the district.

Mrs. Howard is now committed to informing other homeschooling families that their students can participate in PSEO programs in Wyoming without bearing the financial burden. And as an HSLDA member, she’s standing together with over 80,000 other homeschooling families to advocate for homeschooling and end unlawful discrimination against homeschool students.