Originally Sent: 4/18/2016

From the HSLDA e-lert service…
Home School Legal Defense Association

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“Truancy Court” Judge Surrenders

Homeschooling in Missouri.

Thanks for defending homeschool freedom.

Jim Mason
Deputy General Counsel Jim Mason is the director of HSLDA’s litigation team. He and his wife homeschool.

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

On Thursday, April 14, 2016, Judge R. Craig Carter quashed a summons commanding an Ava family to appear in “truancy court.” “Quash” means “to annul or make void.” According to the order, “The 44th Circuit of Missouri Juvenile Office is ordered to dismiss and not prosecute any actions against any member of the Swearengin family.”

“By quashing the summons,” said Michael Farris, founder and chairman of HSLDA, “the judge has as much as said that it never should have been issued in the first place.”

The controversy began when Anthony and Tiffany Swearengin decided to withdraw their two children from public school to homeschool them. Within days they received a summons to appear in “truancy court.” The summons said that “attendance is mandatory” and that failure to attend could result in the loss of custody of their children. You can read more about this case on HSLDA’s website.

HSLDA asked the Supreme Court of Missouri to prohibit the summons from being executed. It ordered Judge Carter to respond. On Friday, April 15, Judge Carter notified the Supreme Court that he had quashed the summons. The Supreme Court denied HSLDA’s writ almost immediately after learning that the summons had been quashed. Although the Supreme Court’s order doesn’t give a reason, we assume that it considered the matter moot once the summons had been quashed.

As head of HSLDA’s litigation team, I was disappointed that the Supreme Court did not take the opportunity to clarify how voluntary truancy mitigation programs are supposed to be operated. However, we are considering what steps to take next to make sure this doesn’t happen again.


James R. Mason, III
Vice President, Director of Litigation

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