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March 31, 2009

CPS Investigates Homeschooling

Mr. and Mrs. Olsen (name changed to protect privacy) were homeschooling their children in Tippecanoe County when they were contacted by their local Department of Child Services. The caseworker informed the family that she had received a report that they were homeschooling and she needed to investigate for possible education neglect.

The family confirmed that they were homeschooling and spoke briefly on their general educational program. When asked if their children were enrolled as homeschoolers with the Indiana Department of Education (DOE), Mrs. Olsen stated they were not. As she left the caseworker insisted that they were required to enroll their children and that her investigation would not be closed until they did so.

Realizing they needed help to resolve this situation, the Olsens contacted the Home School Legal Defense Association for help. Staff Attorney Thomas Schmidt attempted to contact the caseworker to explain what Indiana law requires.

Under Indiana law, homeschool parents must keep attendance records. While these records can be requested by the state superintendent, the purpose is only to “verify the enrollment and attendance of the particular child.”

On the DOE website there is an “Enrollment Report Form” that the Superintendent of Public Instruction requests that parents fill out if they decide to homeschool their children. Indiana law does allow the state superintendent to request the number of students by grade level attending the school. However, this request is to be made directly to homeschool program by the state superintendent.

Schmidt was able to contact the attorney for CPS and discuss these issues. The attorney agreed that enrollment was not required and promised that the case would be closed.

HSLDA advises parents that they can, but are not required to, enroll with the DOE. When removing a child from the public school in the middle of the year, it may be a good idea to enroll with the DOE.

HSLDA Social Services Contact Policy

We desire to advise our members in every contact with a social worker and/or police officer in investigations resulting from allegations of abuse or neglect. If homeschooling is an issue, we will represent our member families until the issue is resolved. On Fourth Amendment unreasonable search and seizure issues, HSLDA will advise our members whenever the privacy of their home is violated by forced or coerced entry for the purpose of an unsubstantiated investigation. HSLDA membership benefits do not extend to court actions resulting from non-homeschooling matters. However, in circumstances where there is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment, HSLDA may, as we have done in the past, choose to take the case in an effort to establish legal precedent.