Mom Arrested and Booked for Homeschooling
by Dan Beasley • February 5, 2019
When her son’s health struggles led to attendance problems at the local public school, a single mom in Mississippi decided her best option was to start homeschooling. That’s how she almost ended up in jail.
Our member’s brush with the law began during the 2017-2018 academic year, when public school officials raised concerns over her 7-year-old son missing what added up to several weeks of school, due to his health issues.
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The mother provided doctor’s notes for her son’s absences, but she still found herself scheduled to meet with an attendance officer. Before the formal meeting, she was able to explain the absences during a home visit from the attendance officer, who expressed that the matter should be resolved.
Making a Change
After finishing out the 2017-2018 school year in public school, the mother decided to consider homeschooling for the current school year in order to provide a more flexible schedule for her son.
Although public schools typically begin classes in early August, state law gives homeschool families until September 15 to file their notice of intent.
But before August ended—well before the legal deadline for filing a homeschool notice—the mother faced the unthinkable. She was arrested on charges of truancy, booked at the sheriff’s office, and ordered to post bond.
Officials further warned her that unless her son attended school, she could face fines of up to $1,000 and a year in jail.
The mother contacted Home School Legal Defense Association for help.
I quickly arranged for local counsel to represent her.
We assisted the mom in filing her homeschool certificate and documenting that her son was indeed learning at home. Our efforts helped persuade the local prosecutor to drop the case.
The mother is now free to focus on her son. But her experience serves as a reminder of how important legal advocacy can be to homeschool families.
Parents may do their best to follow the law, but that doesn’t mean officials will do the same. Lost paperwork, or even plain misunderstandings, can sometimes place homeschool parents in a legal dilemma that is best handled by a seasoned attorney.
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