HSLDA Misrepresents Truth in Home School Court Reports

Carbon County Exceeds Law

HSLDA's Home School Court Report, November/December 1993

Utah --

A new home school policy was prepared by the Carbon County School District this year which exceeded the law in four areas. Home School Legal Defense Association member Ruth Herr contacted HSLDA to notify us of the proposed change and that the policy was being considered that same night.

HSLDA attorney Christopher Klicka immediately prepared a memo and a substitute policy to be submitted to the Carbon County School Board that night. He pointed out that the policy exceeded the law since it required 4.5 or 5.5 hours of instruction per day and that a "schedule is to be drawn up which shows the exact days and hours that the school will be in session." Klicka pointed out that the Attorney General had issued an opinion stating that the school board does not have the authority to "require presentation of a comprehensive plan." Furthermore, the statute itself did not authorize 4.5 or 5.5 hours of instruction per day. KLP: Actually, the state code DOES specify 4.5 hours of instruction per day for K-1 and 5.5 hours per day for 2-12. Klicka's argument here has no basis in law as he is basing what he says on an opinion given by Utah's attorney general about 6 years ago which has been superceded in sections and never touched on the hours in school.
HSLDA also emphasized that the policy's statement that the district "had a legal right to monitor the home instruction program" finds no basis in the law. The Attorney General stated specifically that the school board has no authority or "discretion to examine or investigate a home school at will or to engage in a comprehensive review or ongoing supervision of the home study arrangement." Simply stated, the Carbon County school district has no authority to monitor home schoolers in any way.
KLP: This is correct and I pointed it out in a more non-confrontational face-to-face manner where I didn't wave the AG's opinion in their face. I also made my presentation about 2 weeks before Klicka's fax.
Lastly, HSLDA pointed out that Carbon County's statement, "Home school children will participate in standard testing at the same time and manner as fully-enrolled students," clearly violated the law. Neither the statue nor the Attorney General opinion authorizes the school district to mandate any type of testing. In his sample policy, Klicka deleted these four illegal requirements.

As a result of Ruth Herr's quick action, the legal information submitted by HSLDA, and the voices of home schoolers who attended the school board meeting, the school board decided not to enforce their policy until they have opportunity to consider an alternative policy that would operate within the law. At this time, home schoolers in the county have had no further problems.
KLP: This last paragraph is false. The other home schoolers called me two weeks before the meeting and we met then and again with the superintendant. We came to an agreement after more than two hours of discussion. We left as friends and the superintendant understood his position in relation with ours. See, school officials view home school from the point of view they see, that is the failures which come back with their tail between their legs. Most of these home schoolers were home schooling for the wrong reasons and were never really committed. The home schoolers we see on the other hand are committed, strong, and self reliant. After explaining this to the superintendant, he softened his position considerably and started discussing how he could help us teach our children. I always start my discussions with school officials with a phrase something like this: "We are, after all, both interested in seeing that the best is done for our children, right?" This phrase usually gets them to think of the children, something most don't do. They are usually thinking of the dollars lost because of loss of seat- time.

HSLDA's article was correct in one thing. They have had no further problems, as a group. However, one of the homeschool families is losing their job at the high school because they homeschool, however it's being handled in such a way as to look like his performance is very low, laughable to those who know Tom.

Again, let me reiterate my former position: I believe that HSLDA is similar to the protection rackets spoken of months ago concerning glass insurers. They have yet to do damage in Utah, but, we're ready for them, all 5000 of us "non evangelical christian" homeschoolers.

Oh, by the way, I live by the belief that "a man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still." In other words, those of you who think HSLDA as wonderful little saviors will continue to do so and those who believe as I do, will only see this experience as I do; it confirms what I already believed of them. I, on the one hand, have little or no cognitive dissonance with my position...

-=> Karl L. Pearson, President, Utah Home Education Association
-=> No Success Can Compensate For Failure In The Home - David O. MacKay
-=> The Greatest Work We Will Ever Do
-=> Will Be Within The Walls Of Our Own Homes - Harold B. Lee

United We Stand

HSLDA's Home School Court Report, January / February 1994

New Hampshire --

State Senator Dave Wheeler is preparing to introduce the Non-Institutional Private Education bill again this year. This bill, primarily drafted by Doris Hohensee and the P.U.R.E. group, was quite controversial last year. On the plus side, it would open up a new legal way to home school. If it does not affect the current home school law in any way, it could benefit home schoolers. Last year, unfortunately, the bill's proponents spent much of their energy attacking RSA 193A, the current law. Home School Legal Defense Association strongly encourages home schoolers to work TOGETHER to expand our liberties, rather than waste our time attacking one another.

David Stevenson writes:
> What does P.U.R.E. stand for? People may wish to define their acronyms
> before using them.
> What are the objectives of this organization, Doris?

Sam Blumenfeld organized Parents for Unalienable Rights in Education (PURE). In 1991 Blumenfeld suggested that homeschoolers organize PURE in NH. As I already knew that NH had real education problems, thanks to the 1990 HSLDA-endorsed home education law, we organized under the acronym PURE. Blumenfeld also suggested that we seek a proclamation from the governor for a Home Education Week as four other states had already done so at that time. Other than a few initial suggestions and some periodic contact as to how we were doing in NH, out of courtesy, NH PURE operated independently.

PURE petitioned NH Governor Gregg's office in 1991 for a Home Education Week. His office saw no problem with the first week in May for our Home Education Week. The HSLDA affliate group, CHENH, and others groups that support the 1990 NH hs'ing lobbyied against the proclamation and eliminated it. Reason given for this unexpected turn of events: "lack of unity."

In 1991 PURE lobbied for a Parental Rights Amendment (PRA) modeled after Kentucky's constitutional article ("No man shall be compelled to send his child to any school to which he may be conscientiously opposed") which would have explicitly guaranteed a parent's right to control the education of their children. If you remember Scott Somerville (HSLDA) thought this was a good idea in our internet debate in 1993. However, in 1991 when HSLDA's opinion really mattered, HSLDA actively opposed our Parental Rights Amendment. So much for "unity" when it matters.

> If this does indeed open up new legal avenues for home-schooling, I am
> unlikely to have any problem with it.

The Home School Court Report article misrepresented facts to cover their lack of support for the elimination of regulation on homeschoolers.

Considering the detail with which HSLDA has followed my past actions, they should have known that our homeschooling group, NH Alliance for Home Education, not PURE, sponsored the 1994 legislative proposal recognizing Non-Institutional Private Educators (NIPEs). Actually the Alliance sponsored it for three years in a row now. In 1993 Scott Somerville finally indicated that he would support this year's NIPE bill (1994), but only after a very lengthy debate.

The NIPE bill was no more controversial last year than this year. It's the same bill. Last year we attacked the current home education statute as being unconstitutional. We did so again this year. How else does one convince the legislature that the existing home education statute is absolutely untenable?

> I do concur with HSLDA that we should work TOGETHER to expand our
> liberties, rather than waste our time attacking one another.

It's kinda ironic, to say the least, that HLSDA is lecturing me on "unity" at this late date. The NIPE bill that the Home School Court Report supposedly "supported" in a untimely and lukewarm fashion is long gone. They had three chances to support it and missed all three. Don't they say three strikes and you're out?

Had HSLDA wished to support it in a timely and enthusiastic fashion as they supported our burdensome homeschooling law in 1990 by sending Michael Smith (HSLDA) to personally lobby the NH legislature, it might have had greater success. HSLDA lawyers are experts at using superlative adjectives and mustering on the spot support.

The only way we could have had more "unity" here in New Hampshire over the past five years would have been if I tried to diminish, not expand, our liberties. There was plenty of "unity" to go around in the "let's-go-along-to-get-along" camp. No thanks.

- Doris Hohensee

Due Process Claim Denied

HSLDA's Home School Court Report, March/April 1994

New Hampshire --

"Educational neglect" was the charge leveled against a home-schooling family in January. The parents (who are not members of HSLDA) attempted to claim the due process guarantees of New Hampshire's home school law, RSA 193-A, which says that a home education program is to continue during the time that an appeal is pending. The judge permitted the neglect action to proceed despite the wording of the home school law. A number of leaders with in the state's home-schooling community worked together to do what they could to defend the family. Home school leaders spoke up for the family at the court hearing, while others lobbied department of education officials by means of the Home Education Advisory Council. Thanks to these and other efforts, charges against the family were eventually dropped.
There are several errors and omissions in HSLDA's account. There was no unity amongst NH homeschoolers during this ordeal as HSLDA suggests in its misrepresentative article.

First and most importantly, this case demonstrated once and for all that there is no such thing as a "notification" process in our home education law as HSLDA has been claiming since 1990. It is merely "newspeak" for an application or approval process, as I have consistently claimed for five years now and HSLDA has consistently denied.

Secondly, the "due process" clause in our home education law did not offer the parents any protection. That's no surprise either.

Third, I don't remember anyone in court helping the family other than myself. I spent many hours in court, days even. The legal assistance that I did get was from two individuals who weren't even homeschoolers, just concerned citizens. I also contacted several legislators who made inquiries within the child protection agency on the family's behalf.

Fourth, there was no "working together" amongst homeschool leaders as HSLDA suggests. At one point I emailed Scott to request that he keep one particular "leader" focused on the goal, instead of bickering over whether our ridiculous hs'ing law was working. This hs'ing "leader," Elaine Rapp, in fact, withheld written information which she had in her possession which might have helped the case.

Fifth, the Home Education Advisory Council (HEAC) did nothing to assist the resolution of the case other than that which they were required to do by regulation. The HEAC members felt constrained by regulation to demonstrate their "fairness" to the NH Department of Education officials. Had they moved up their hearing date, we probably could have avoided the preliminary finding of "educational neglect" at the initial court hearing, thus terminating the entire procedure. Now the family has their name, along with a finding of "educational neglect," on a national Central Registry of abuse and neglect for the next seven years. - Doris Hohensee

Threatening Our Freedom to Homeschool

HSLDA's Home School Court Report, January / February 2000

Massachusetts --
A Step Backwards

For the first time in years, home schoolers took a step backwards in Massachusetts. On October 14, 1999, the Massachusetts Court of Appeals decided the case Care and Protection of Ivan. A home schooling couple who insisted on arguing their own case without an attorney refused to provide any information to their school district. The family insisted that the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, a part of the state constitution, guaranteed them the freedom to do so. Unfortunately, the judge disagreed.

A case such as Ivan presents the home school community with a classic dilemma: Is it better to push our constitutional freedoms to their logical limits, or to avoid "rocking the boat"? Home School Legal Defense Association consistently tries to balance the maximum achievable liberty with real concern for the home school community as a whole. When families exercise their legal right to challenge the system, it is in the interest of every home schooler that they win. A loss for one hurts all of us.

Home schoolers must hang together or we shall most assuredly all hang separately. That is why HSLDA exists. With almost70,000 families across America united to defend our rights to educate our own children in our own homes, the chance of losing a significant case is very low. When one individual challenges the system by himself the chance of loss is great.

- Scott W. Sommerville, Esq.
While Mr. Sommerville says homeschoolers should hang together, he most certainly does not mean this. Or rather he means we should hang together over what HSLDA thinks is important. If he truly meant we should hang together he would have kept abreast of my family's struggle in court and encouraged other families to come to the courthouse in support of my efforts. If he had done so perhaps the outcome would have been different.

I would also like to comment on his assessment that we "lost". The case was dismissed and my family was court ordered to submit far less information to the school department then other families who have not stood up. The fact that my struggle took so long was due to my lack of experience and knowledge. I had to learn.

- Kim Engler Bryant