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December 7, 2016

Confused Officials Misapply Approval Requirements


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Why were local officials hassling them? Two homeschooling families had followed the rules, but were now being told to “verify” the legal status of their homeschools in ways that were all but impossible.

Tj Schmidt TJ SCHMIDT Contact attorney for Louisiana

In DeSoto Parish, an HSLDA member family received a letter from the local school board’s Director of Student Services informing them that their “home school application expired/will expire” and that they had to “renew [their] application and send verification of renewal.”

A family in St. Charles Parish experienced similar difficulty when the school district’s Director of Child Welfare and Attendance demanded that the family provide a copy of their “approval” letter for their home-based private school so he could in turn “approve” their program.

These demands were especially alarming for several reasons.

In Louisiana, families set up homeschool programs through the state department of education, so there is rarely any need to interact with local officials. Also, these families were homeschooling through the legal option known as a nonpublic school (not seeking state approval).

Already Verified

After the DeSoto family contacted HSLDA about their dilemma, HSLDA Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt wrote a letter to the school board.  He explained that the family had submitted their annual notice of attendance for their home-based private school to the state department of education, and had received verification that their home-based private school was registered with the DOE.

Schmidt pointed out that this verification had been provided several weeks before the parish school board contacted the family. 

“Louisiana law does not require the State Department of Education or the local parish to ‘approve’ home-based private schools,” Schmidt informed the school board.

Because it had no authority to request information pertaining to the family’s home-based private school, Schmidt informed the school board that the family would not be providing that information. The family received no further contact from the parish.

Schmidt also wrote St. Charles Parish school officials on behalf of the family there.

He explained that students enrolled in a home-based private school are in compliance with Louisiana law and that the local parish was without authority to “approve” home-based private schools. He added that out of good faith, the family was providing a copy of their verification letter from the DOE to the school official, and asked the official to ensure that the student would be removed from the school’s enrollment as of the date he had been withdrawn by his parents.

While these kinds of school district contacts are fortunately rare in Louisiana, they underscore the need for school officials everywhere to be educated regarding what the law is and to be held accountable to it. HSLDA is here to help homeschooling families make sure that happens.