Everyone Agrees: Why Go After Grandma?
by Darren Jones • June 19, 2018
Choosing to homeschool for even the best of reasons won’t necessarily prevent you from running afoul of the law—as this North Dakota grandmother discovered when she withdrew her disabled granddaughter from public school.
Fortunately, help is available—sometimes from the most unlikely of sources.
The trouble started for our North Dakota member long before she began homeschooling last September. Her granddaughter, whom she has been raising, struggles with heart problems that lead to other health complications.
The granddaughter spends a great deal of time in hospitals, which makes a regimented education program difficult. The grandmother finally decided the best thing would be to teach her granddaughter at home.
“She’s very fragile,” the grandmother told us. “This is my biggest reason for homeschooling her.”
The grandmother filed a notice of intent last fall as required by law, but unfortunately neglected to submit additional paperwork the state demands for homeschool students who have a developmental disability.
She was subsequently visited by a CPS investigator. But in a refreshing turn of events, the investigator not only closed the case, but also helped the grandmother compile the additional documentation for her granddaughter.
By February, the public school superintendent’s office had received the paperwork and removed the granddaughter from their rolls.
Unfortunately, the documentation was not filed in time for the grandmother to avoid being charged with truancy by the local city prosecutor.
To make matters worse, the legal trouble coincided with an extended stay by the granddaughter in a Minneapolis children’s hospital, an eight-hour drive from the family’s hometown.
That’s when the grandmother contacted Home School Legal Defense Association. Our local counsel Greg Lange quickly got the trial postponed due to the hospital stay. Then he conferred with a new prosecutor who had been assigned to the case.
Lange pointed out that with the caseload the prosecutor had inherited, it made little sense to crack down on a grandmother raising a girl with special needs—especially since all the required homeschooling paperwork had been submitted and received.
“Let’s get this trial dismissed,” Lange suggested. “We both have better ways to spend our time.”
The prosecutor agreed. The case was dismissed on May 7, and the grandmother told HSLDA that she was very thankful for our help.