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January 10, 2006

Department of Education Opposes Single Parents

April Swift (not her real name) has been fighting the Department of Education for years. She was never married to the father of her child, but has joint custody pursuant to a court order in another state. When she moved to Nebraska, she discovered (to her unpleasant surprise) that state law required the signature of both parents before she could legally teach a child at home. After much negotiation, the Department finally grudgingly acknowledged her right to homeschool last year, when the child's father signed a letter indicating that he was aware of the home education program.

April has contacted a friendly legislator, State Sen. Adrian Smith, to see whether it would be possible to amend Nebraska's homeschool law to protect the rights of single parents and their children. The Home School Legal Defense Association wrote the Department of Education to notify them of this legislative initiative. On December 21, 2005, the Department of Education wrote back to object to any such change.

The Department said, "When one parent elects to seek exempt school status for a child and the other parent objects to this decision, then the objecting parent is left with no protection to their rights under the law to participate in the education of their child should the Department be authorized to accept an application from a single parent."

The Department is clearly prejudiced against home education and sides with the non-custodial parent who objects to homeschooling. No other state gives non-custodial parents this kind of "veto power" over home education. HSLDA is committed to working with Nebraska homeschoolers and legislators to solve this problem in the near future.