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June 13, 2012

School Says No to Homeschooling of Special Needs Child

Staff Attorney Mike Donnelly answers questions and assists members regarding legal issues in Colorado. He and his wife homeschool. Read more >>

Mr. and Mrs. Dunes (name changed to protect privacy) had become increasingly frustrated with the public school system’s inability to provide for their daughter’s education. The girl’s learning disabilities and environment were creating significant anxiety for her. The family decided they would homeschool and submitted their notice of intent. However, they were shocked and concerned to receive a letter back from the school district stating that officials “will not approve your application to home school … she is a student with significant disability.”

The family had wisely joined HSLDA prior to submitting their letter of intent to the school district and received assistance from HSLDA Staff Attorney Michael Donnelly. Donnelly sent a strong letter to school officials asserting that the Dunes possessed a fundamental constitutional right to educate their daughter at home—regardless of her learning disabilities—and cautioned the district about infringing upon the family’s rights. The response from the school was quick.

Three days later the Dunes received another letter from St. Vrain Valley School District acknowledging that the family’s “home school is established.”

Donnelly said that this is not an uncommon occurrence.

“Unfortunately, many education professionals believe that they are the only ones equipped to properly teach children—especially those who have learning disabilities. However, increasing research is demonstrating that a homeschool environment is a particularly excellent place for children with special needs to get the attention they need in an environment that is safe and not distracting. I love helping parents with special needs children deal with the public schools in situations like this,” he said.

Mrs. Dunes was delighted and told HSLDA how much he appreciated Donnelly’s help.

“I need to let you know, you all have absolutely no idea what a blessing you are that you were able to jump in and help,” she stated. “My husband and I have gone thru weeks and weeks of insanity trying to get the school to hear us concerning [our daughter’s] needs … we could have never afforded to contact an attorney without you. When the [school’s] letter came, I would have put her back in school because I would have believed I had to, and I know … she wouldn’t have been smiling.”

Families like the Dunes all across America receive support from HSLDA. Through your membership you not only protect your family but others like the Dunes. You can help us defend families in need by joining today or encouraging others to do the same. Please send this story to a friend who is not a member of HSLDA.