HSLDA Media Release
February 13, 2001

Ohio home schooler saved from
criminal trial on unfounded truancy charges

For immediate release
February 13, 2001
Contact: Rich Jefferson
(540) 338-8663 or media@hslda.org

SCIO, OH—An Ohio home school mom on Friday morning, Feb. 9, 2001, was served with unexpected criminal charges of alleged habitual truancy. The trial was scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2001.

The truancy charges were a complete surprise to Mrs. Cindy Niknam and her son. Ohio home school law does not require parents to "apply" to the local public school district for "permission" to home school. As she has done in the past, Mrs. Niknam last fall filed her notice of intent in order to be exempt from Ohio's compulsory instruction law.

Mrs. Niknam had every reason to believe that her home school program was settled. She had not bargained on one local official's zeal for control.

To Mrs. Niknam's consternation, Barry Statler, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Harrison Hills City School District in Hopedale filed truancy charges because, as he put it, Mrs. Niknam's "application" to home school had been "denied."

Mrs. Niknam, as a member of the Home School Legal Defense Association, turned to HSLDA for help. To her relief, HSLDA's attorney convinced the school district by mid-afternoon on Friday to drop the criminal charges.

HSLDA discovered that the school district even had on file a copy of its Sept. 5, 2000 letter to Mrs. Niknam acknowledging her notice of intent to home school.

The district's Sept. 5 letter did not request further action or information from Mrs. Niknam about her home schooling program or her curriculum.

If there had been legitimate questions about Mrs. Niknam's intent to home school, the superintendent of the Harrison Hills City School District would have been required under the law to write a letter to Mrs. Niknam asking for more information.

Authorities harassed Mrs. Niknam last year, when she was questioned by hostile social workers who told her that home schooling was illegal. The social workers left Mrs. Niknam's property after she mentioned she was a member of the Home School Legal Defense Association.