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North Carolina
North Carolina

October 14, 2014

Superintendent Refuses Public School Withdrawal

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

Home School Legal Defense Association came to the aid of a North Carolina member family in Washington County last week when the public school superintendent refused to permit a mother to withdraw her 5-year-old daughter from kindergarten. The superintendent’s position was that this child was subject to the compulsory attendance law and was not permitted to withdraw from public school unless the mother could show proof of enrollment in another school. After the mother notified the principal of the elementary school that she was withdrawing her daughter, the school officials threatened her with truancy charges.

This saga began when the parent enrolled her daughter in public school on a trial basis at the beginning of the school year. She decided to withdraw her daughter in favor of informal homeschooling after her daughter began to display attitude and behavioral problems. The daughter had informed her that she was no longer interested in learning new things and that other children in school were telling her she was stupid. She had also reported that another student was bullying her and had pushed her, bruising her ear. The parent had reported this to the teacher, in addition to the fact that her daughter had been taught some objectionable behavior by the other kindergarteners.

HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt Black faxed a letter to the superintendent and informed him of the provisions of North Carolina’s compulsory attendance statute. Children between the ages of 7 and 16 are required to attend school. Additionally, children under age 7 who are enrolled in public school in grades kindergarten through 2 are required to attend school unless they have been withdrawn from school. Black pointed out that since our member’s daughter was under age 7, had been enrolled in kindergarten, and had been withdrawn from public school, she was no longer subject to the compulsory attendance law and did not have to attend any school until she turned 7 years old. Black also cautioned the superintendent about taking any action against the parent that would infringe upon her constitutional right to direct the education of her child.

This was an unusual case, but it demonstrates how misinformed state officials can create anxiety-producing legal problems even for families who have not violated the law.

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