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October 7, 2013

Homeschooling Too Effective?

Staff Attorney Mike Donnelly protects homeschool freedom in Massachusetts. He and his wife homeschool. Read more >>

It is not often that a school district challenges homeschool programs on the grounds that they are too effective.

After completing both 1st and 2nd grade materials in one year, an HSLDA member family notified their school district that they would be teaching their child at the 3rd grade level. The school district frowned upon this, writing back to the family that this “unexpected skipping of second grade and promotion to third grade was not approved.” The district requested the family resubmit their homeschool program to teach their son at the 2nd grade level.

The family contacted HSLDA. Mike Donnelly, HSLDA’s staff attorney for Massachusetts member affairs, wrote to the school district that the family had every right to teach their child in whatever grade they felt most appropriate.

Parents Decide

Although Massachusetts is one of only two states that still allows school authorities to approve or disapprove homeschool notifications, homeschools are not required to match the grade promotion policies of the public schools. Parents can teach at whatever grade level a child needs—even if that is different grade levels for different subjects.

Parents, not school authorities, are the instructors and are empowered to determine the appropriate level to teach their students so that children can learn at their own pace and according to their ability.

Legal Precedent

It is true the seminal homeschool case in Massachusetts, Charles, does set the local public school as a measuring stick and requires parents to provide instruction “equal in thoroughness, efficiency and progress.” However, in a subsequent case argued by HSLDA, Brunelle v. Lynn Public Schools, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts made it clear that authorities should not apply institutional standards of the public school to the homeschool setting.

Donnelly’s letter to the superintendent explained the rights of parents to determine the academic level appropriate for teaching their children. Instead of challenging homeschools for being too “efficient,” school officials should recognize that one of the inherent characteristic of homeschooling is that children are able to move forward at their own pace.

Because of HSLDA’s support, the family is now homeschooling with peace of mind, confident that they have the support of a team of lawyers dedicated to defending their family's right to homeschool their children as they see fit.

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Protect Your Family

If you or someone you know is not a member of HSLDA, will you consider taking a moment today to join or recommend us? Your support for our work enables us to defend individual families threatened by government officials and protect homeschooling freedom for all. Join now >>