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Dispute Over Paperwork ≠ Neglect

by Darren Jones • December 4, 2018

Every year it’s the same. You plan out your school year, purchase your textbooks and resources, and put all your paperwork in order.

For many of us, that includes some paperwork for the school district or state. We dutifully package up the required documentation and send it off via certified mail, checking the task off for another year. It’s an annoyance, but we do our part.

Only recently for two particular HSLDA families, it wasn’t just an annoyance; it became a nightmare.

Wrongful Report

Both New York and Massachusetts are known for requiring quite a bit of documentation from homeschooling families, but two particular districts wrongly reported our families to child protective services.

The 2017-18 school year began as usual for our member family in New York’s Oneida District. The parents had been homeschooling for several years and again filed the annual paperwork. All seemed well.

However, several months into the school year, the officials contacted them with a request that they use the Oneida District’s forms to submit their quarterly reports.

When the family pointed out that New York law does not require any particular form, the district then started demanding that they resubmit information from the previous school year on the district form, as well as resubmitting their quarterly reports and IHIPs (individual home instruction plans) for the current year. To top it off, the district then reported them to child protective services for educational neglect.

CPS investigated. Unsurprisingly, they found that the children were being educated—all of them had scored above New York’s required limit on standardized testing the previous year. But because the school kept insisting that the paperwork hadn’t been passed in correctly or on time, CPS closed the investigation as “indicated” and put the parents on the child abuse registry.

HSLDA appealed this unacceptable decision, pointing out that a dispute over homeschool paperwork does not meet New York’s standard for child neglect. The Office of Children and Family Services reviewed it and agreed, quickly removing the parents from the registry.

Different State, Similar Problem

Learn more about how HSLDA helped this mom in court.

Watch now »

However, the need to defend homeschool families continues.

In neighboring Massachusetts, HSLDA is currently helping a single mother who had workers from the Department of Children and Families show up at her door because the school claimed she hadn’t filed a notice of intent.

Actually, she had—it just took the Worcester school district months to approve it. And her local school claimed that delayed approval meant “child neglect,” so it called the department and insisted she be investigated.

Failing to use school district forms isn’t child neglect. Disputes over homeschool paperwork shouldn’t lead to CPS investigations.

For years, HSLDA has fought for innocent families who are being investigated by child protective services just because the school district has a dispute over their homeschooling paperwork.

HSLDA needs the continued support of families across the county to fight for innocent homeschoolers who get caught up in the system. We need your help! Please join today.

Darren Jones

Senior Counsel

Darren is a litigation attorney and homeschool graduate who helps HSLDA member families resolve legal difficulties related to homeschooling. Read more.

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