Homeschool Moves Ahead After Family Trauma
by Darren Jones • September 10, 2019
Two years after the death of her husband, an HSLDA member and mother of three young boys fought battle after battle to ensure her sons were secure in their new homeschool. When the school district initiated a CPS investigation and court proceedings against the family, HSLDA stepped in and helped get the matter resolved.
In 2018, our member’s oldest son was still enrolled in public school. While struggling with serious health issues, he missed 23 days of classes.
The mother obtained a doctor’s note for every day her oldest son was absent, but the school’s policy was that it could not excuse more than 10 missed days—even for health reasons. The school marked the remaining absences “unexcused” and notified child protective services.
The following school year, the mother began to homeschool. She filed a notice of intent for her second son, in accordance with Kentucky homeschool law, and started the school year. However, she delayed submitting a notice for her oldest son, who was still dealing with health issues.
The school district’s truant officer took special note of this new notice of intent and demanded more information from the mother. Dissatisfied with what she submitted, the officer contacted CPS again.
The CPS investigator filed a petition with the court involving all three children (including the 4-year-old, who wasn’t even of compulsory school age!), citing “concerns of non-compliance with CPS and school personnel.” Additionally, the petition incorrectly stated that our member had not filed notices of intent to homeschool.
At the initial court hearing, at which our local counsel A.C. Donahue appeared, the judge inappropriately noted that she did not feel qualified to homeschool. She then asked: How could our member possibly be qualified to homeschool her three boys?
The outlook of the case improved, however, when the CPS investigator met with the mother at her home.
Guided in part by our instruction, the mom showed examples of her boys’ schoolwork and outlined her education plans. The investigator said she was satisfied after the first meeting that this family’s homeschool program was thorough and efficient. She had no further concerns.
The children’s guardian ad litem, however, felt the family still had non-school issues to address, including the fact the boys still seemed to be dealing with trauma brought on by the death of their father. He referred the family to a variety of resources, including a parenting class offered by a state family wellness program.
The mother enrolled, describing the course as “intensive and exhausting,” but ultimately helpful. With her homeschool program going well and with her class complete, the court dismissed the case.
We supported this mom both on the educational side and the legal side. HSLDA educational consultant Carol Brown helped develop skill-appropriate homeschool programs for each of the children, and I gave legal advice on the educational plans and how to present them in court.
At the end of the year, the two oldest boys tested very well.