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August 20, 2012

On the Case:

Family’s Homeschool Rights Defended

Senior Counsel Jim Mason is a member of HSLDA’s litigation team. He and his wife homeschool.
Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff answers questions and assists members regarding legal issues in Virginia. He and his wife homeschooled their children.

While shopping in Wal-Mart one evening, Hannah Irven (names changed to protect privacy) was concerned to see the local truant officer trying to speak to her homeschooled sons. The officer had visited her home earlier that day, and Hannah had quickly contacted Home School Legal Defense Association.

Ms. Irven’s sons, Oliver and Christian are respectful 7th- and 8th-grade students, studying the Constitution, cellular biology, and everything in-between. While Christian started homeschooling in 4th grade because of a medical condition, Oliver began homeschooling in 8th grade to avoid a bad public school environment.

Based on an anonymous call to the local school, the truant officer visited the Irvens in the spring of 2012. She demanded to review the boys’ schoolwork—a request that Ms. Irven was not legally required to gratify. She saw the truant officer again that evening in Wal-Mart. The next morning, the officer hand-delivered a letter stating that Ms. Irven had to prove that she was providing her children with an equivalent education to the public school or enroll them in public school by the next Monday.

HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff explained to the truant office that Ms. Irven was homeschooling legally under Illinois law. He clarified that the state of Illinois recognizes homeschools as private schools and that homeschooling families have no obligation to notify either the state or the local school district. The officer refused to respond. By this time, Ms. Irven received a second threatening letter. To avoid a truancy meeting with the school, attorney Woodruff and HSLDA’s litigation team began responding aggressively.

Neither HSLDA nor Ms. Irven heard anything further from the truant officer, and the hearing was never scheduled. While HSLDA was prepared to defend the Irven family in court if necessary, we are delighted that the Irvens have experienced no further harassment and that the truant officer has presumably acknowledged their legal right to homeschool.