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November 1, 2005

County States Homeschools are “Open for Inspection”

In early September HSLDA member families in Jackson County began receiving letters from their local Director of Pupil Personnel (DPP), John Smith. In his letter the DPP demanded certain documentation from every homeschool family in the county.

Among other things, the DPP insisted that each family submit information concerning their attendance keeping procedures, a copy of their planned school calendar, and verification that they were teaching the required subjects. Additionally, the DPP sought documentation that each homeschool family was keeping the scholarship reports in the same manner as the public schools.

HSLDA attorney Thomas Schmidt immediately wrote a letter on behalf of all of our member families in the county to the DPP and pointed out that none of the documentation he requested was required under Kentucky law. Under Kentucky Revised Statutes § 159.030 homeschool families are required to notify the local school board that they are conducting a private (home)school program and keep attendance and scholarship records.

If a family has submitted the required notice within two weeks from the beginning of the school year there is a presumption under the Best Practices Document that the family is conducting a bona-fide homeschool program. This document was agreed to many years ago between the two state homeschool organizations and the Kentucky Directors of Pupil Personnel in recognition of a parent’s right to direct their child’s education.

The only time that a DPP should request to see homeschool attendance or scholarship reports is when they have evidence that the family is not conducting a homeschool program, the family failed to file their notice within two weeks of the school year, or the child has been removed from the public school in the middle of the year.

Since the first letter Schmidt sent to the Jackson county DPP more families have received additional letters. Many of these letters have threatened that the DPP has the authority to inspect all private schools. However, these threats are empty as each homeschool family has protection under the Fourth Amendment in the privacy of their home.

It now appears that Jackson County is harassing homeschool families because they are “losing” nearly $400,000 from children who are not attending the public school. In an article dated August 18, 2005, the Jackson County Sun reported that Mr. Smith indicated that he believed that “probably (only) half” of the parents in the county were diligent in teaching their children at home.

It is also likely that part of the reason homeschool families are facing so much harassment from Jackson County public school officials is due to the fact the Board of Education created a position to monitor private homeschooling. This appears to be an effort to convince homeschool families to re-enroll their children in the district and increase public school funding.

HSLDA will continue to support and defend our members in Jackson County. Through God’s grace, and by standing together with one voice, homeschool families will be victorious!