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August 26, 2015

School Officials Threaten to Visit Homes

Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt answers questions and assists members with legal issues in Kentucky. He and his wife homeschool their children.

Homeschool families in Gallatin County, Kentucky received an unwelcome packet this summer—one that heralded a new kind of scrutiny by local public school officials.

The primary attack came in a letter from Roxann Booth, the director of pupil personnel. She informed parents that in the coming year, county officials would visit the home of every homeschool program.

The packet also contained forms that requested detailed information not required by state law.

Privacy at Issue

Homeschool parents were asked to provide not just the ages of the children they were teaching at home, but each child’s date of birth. The district also requested that parents provide their telephone numbers as a point of contact. Both of these requests exceeded the school’s authority under Kentucky law.

Even more troubling was the demand for information about school schedules and method of recordkeeping. Parents are required to teach their children each year for a minimum of 170 days and 1,062 hours. They also need to maintain attendance records and keep scholarship reports (report cards) every six to nine weeks.

But this packet went far beyond that. It asked parents to indicate whether they specifically intended to follow the local school calendar. It also insisted that parents inform the school district about how they were going to keep attendance records and how their instructional days would be documented.

HSLDA Responds

When informed of these demands, HSLDA Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt wrote a letter to Ms. Booth on behalf of all of our member families in the county. Schmidt informed Ms. Booth that the forms requested information well beyond that required under Kentucky law. He also informed the county that home visits would violate each homeschooling individual’s privacy rights, and that HSLDA would challenge any attempt to carry out these visits. Schmidt requested that the county notify all homeschool families that they would be dropping these extra-legal requirements.

Within two weeks, every homeschool family received a follow-up letter from Ms. Booth. She apologized for the demands for additional information and the challenge to the legitimacy of their homeschool programs. She also asked the families to disregard the packet she had previously sent.

We are pleased by the county’s prompt decision to drop its unlawful demands.

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