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November 1, 2006

Routine Investigation of All New Homeschoolers to Stop

This fall HSLDA learned that officials in Callaway County were reporting for truancy all families who pulled their children out of public school in order to homeschool them. Home School Legal Defense Association Staff Attorney Scott Woodruff immediately began investigating this outrage.

One homeschool parent said a juvenile officer had advised school officials to report for truancy every family who withdrew a child to homeschool. When Woodruff confronted the juvenile officer, however, she denied it. She admitted she had emailed school officials on the general topic, but refused to disclose the contents of her email.

Woodruff then contacted the principal of the school who had reported a particular family for truancy as they began homeschooling. She told Woodruff that the juvenile officer had sent an email advising principals to report as truant all students who were withdrawn for homeschooling. When Woodruff asked the principal to give him a copy, she said she would look for it and call back.

When time passed and she did not call back, Woodruff called her. She told him she had found the email, but he would have to go through the school system’s attorney to access it.

Woodruff immediately called the school system’s attorney. She said she would look into it. She called Woodruff back the same day with the email in hand. The email was from the juvenile officer and it was addressed to Callaway County school officials. It said, in part, “What is not clear to me is whether schools are required to notify the juvenile office in the event that a parent has decided to home school. That would be a question for your legal counsel and administrators.”

This is presumably what the school principal was relying on when she said she had been advised to report all withdrawing families.

Woodruff asked the school attorney to speak to the school system superintendent and explain that officials should not routinely report all withdrawing families. She agreed, and acknowledged that there is no legitimate basis for reporting a family when the only allegation is that they are leaving public school in order to homeschool.

This should be the end of needless harassment of new homeschool families in Callaway County. However, should you experience any new incidents of harassment, please contact us immediately.