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September 7, 2006

School Districts Threaten Truancy Charges

At the beginning of this school year, school districts in at least two counties in Alabama threatened to file truancy charges against all church school students in their respective counties. Public school officials in Marion and Cherokee counties sent letters to all church schools in their area, insisting that the school administrators provide proof of nonprofit status such as their federal tax identification number. The letter from Cherokee County also demanded that the schools provide a letter from a sponsoring church indicating that the church is located in Alabama. The letters threatened to file truancy charges against all of the students enrolled in the church schools unless the information was provided. The vast majority of parents providing home instruction to their children in Alabama do so through enrollment in church schools.

Home School Legal Defense Association Senior Counsel Dewitt Black sent a letter to the public school officials advising them that Alabama law does not require church schools to provide any such information to school districts. Black further stated that there was no legal basis to assert that a child attending a church school which has not provided such information is truant.

Any HSLDA member families threatened with truancy charges based on their church school’s refusal to provide this type of information should contact us immediately for assistance. We are prepared to defend our member families from such warrantless charges.