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Parents wrongfully arrested after notifying superintendent of their intent to home school
Filed: April 6, 2000, Richmond County.
Nature of Case: Home schooling parents Gerald and Angela Balderson were falsely arrested Friday, March 17, 2000, after truancy charges were filed against them by Bryan Almasian, assistant principal at Richmond County Elementary School.
Virginia law says home schoolers are required to notify their superintendent of their intention to home school. The Baldersons provided their notice on Feb. 25, 2000. The law also says that after appropriate review of the case, school superintendents, not other school administrators, are to file truancy charges. There is no evidence that the assistant principal was an attendance officer, but he filed the charges, the only charges he ever filed during his two year term as assistant principal.
HSLDA filed a civil rights lawsuit in state court against Almasian alleging a variety of state and federal law violations.
Ruling: On June 21, 2000, the Court dismissed every count but malicious prosecution. In particular, our claims alleging violation of the parent's right to direct the education of their child and alleging vindictive prosecution appear to have been improperly denied.
Update: Following depositions of all the parties, it was clear that the assistant principal did not know that the Baldersons had filed a notice of intent to home school. Malicious prosecution requires a showing of malice or ill will, which is absent in this situation. The case was voluntarily dismissed.
Status: The trial is set for April 9, 2001.
Last Updated: April 9, 2001.