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Illinois

November 12, 2002

Illinois Homeschoolers Facing Harassment

A regional superintendent of schools, who covers the three county area of Bureau, Stark, and Henry counties, has thrown down the gauntlet, challenging the rights of homeschool families under his jurisdiction. It is reported that over 22 families have been contacted by the regional superintendent who has demanded that they attend a "pre-trial hearing" or he will file a truancy petition. HSLDA is presently representing several of the families. At HSLDA's recommendation, one family submitted a short statement to the school district that they were in compliance with the Illinois code and the Illinois Supreme Court in People v. Levisen. The family thereafter received a call from the school district insisting that they comply with a home visit. To make matters worse, one of the district attorneys in the area has already told HSLDA that he will prosecute homeschool families that do not submit to these illegal requests of the superintendent.

One of the truant officers has been delivering to local homeschool families notices of their required attendance at these "pre-trial hearings." He even told one homeschool family that he "could take the children away if he wanted to." The superintendent and district attorney argue that the burden is on the families to prove that they are innocent.

HSLDA, however, has put the regional superintendent's office on notice that he is exceeding his authority as delegated to him by the legislature and the Illinois Code. Illinois statutes and case law are straightforward and simple. Homeschooling is legal in Illinois and homeschoolers do not need school district approval to educate their own children.

For more information about the Illinois homeschooling law visit:
http://www.hslda.org/laws/default.asp?State=IL

In addition to informing the school district of the right of these families to operate without having their curriculum approved, we also have shown the school district that home visits are unconstitutional. Mandatory home visits are clear violations of a family's right to privacy and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

For more information on the unconstitutionality of home visits by school officials visit:
http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000000/00000072.asp

Lastly, homeschoolers are under no legal obligation to attend "pre-trial hearings" which have no standards or guarantees. When questioned, the district attorney did not have any idea what standards would be used to judge a homeschooler's curriculum. In one case a family (who is not a member of HSLDA) allowed the public school official into their home to look at the curriculum. He still was not satisfied and pursued further action against them.

The stakes are rising higher, and HSLDA is prepared to defend its families against these intimidation tactics and harassment. HSLDA will be notifying its members of further developments and the possibility of grassroots action against this school district.

Please keep in mind that due to the results of the recent elections, HSLDA will be working with the Christian Home Education Coalition and the Illinois Christian Home Educators to vigilantly watch this next legislative session. In light of the attempts of the previous administration to require homeschoolers to submit their immunization records and to lower the compulsory age, we expect that there is a likelihood of this or even worse legislation being introduced in the Illinois Legislature.

We know the last administration considered changing the education code to include registration of homeschoolers. Fortunately the issue was tabled during the negotiations and never saw the light of day. This would be another requirement that certain anti-homeschool legislators may be emboldened to introduce.

We urge homeschoolers to be prepared and willing to contact their legislators upon receiving notice from HSLDA concerning dangerous legislation.