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North Carolina
North Carolina

September 17, 2011

Close Call For Single Mom

Senior Counsel Dee Black answers questions and assists members with legal issues in North Carolina. He and his wife homeschooled their children. Read more >>

When the homeschool of a divorced mother of seven was threatened with closing by the state in August, Home School Legal Defense Association successfully intervened on her behalf.

During the more than 20 years that the parents were married, the father was supportive of homeschooling the children. But, as is too often the case, when the couple divorced, the father wanted the children to be enrolled in public school so that their mother could enter the workforce. For three years, there was ongoing, stressful conflict between the parents about the children’s education until finally the mother succumbed to her ex-husband’s demands that she enroll the remaining children in public school. Unfortunately, because of all the upheaval during the last school year the children were homeschooled, the mother did not have standardized tests administered during the 2010–2011 school year as required by state law.

After a year of public school during which the mother said her “heart was ripped to shreds” as she watched her children’s experience, she determined to begin homeschooling again during the 2012–2013 school year. But her ex-husband had other plans. He filed a complaint with the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE), alleging that his children’s homeschool should be closed because of their mother’s failure to administer standardized tests during the 2010–2011 school year. In response, DNPE asked the mother to submit the test results for inspection. That’s when HSLDA got involved.

HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt Black sent a reply to DNPE on behalf of the mother and reminded officials that state law requires that the test records be made available for inspection for only one year after testing. Black pointed out that since the 2010–2011 school year ended on June 30, 2011, the test records for that year were subject to inspection only until June 30, 2012. DNPE did not request to see the records until August of this year. One week after receiving Black’s letter, DNPE dismissed the complaint against the mother.

This case is a reminder of how important it is to comply with state law even in the most difficult circumstances in order to avoid dealing with future problems. Fortunately for this family, the law also provided a way of escape.