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District Has to See it to Believe … That She’s 6?

by Darren Jones • April 16, 2019

It was supposed to be the beginning of a wonderful homeschool journey. Their daughter was starting 1st grade, so an HSLDA member family in New York filed their notice of intent with the local public school district, just like the law requires.

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But when the family opened the registration packet that the school district sent them, things soon turned weird. The packet included demands that went well beyond what the law requires: the student’s original birth certificate, immunization records, race, ethnicity, the language of the child, information about siblings or other children living with the family, and proof of address such as signed closing papers from a house sale or a utility bill.

Since none of this information is required by New York’s homeschool law, the family just sent back what they were supposed to: the individualized plan of instruction. They forwarded the extra-legal demands to Home School Legal Defense Association for a response, which attorney Tj Schmidt addressed in a lengthy communication to the district.

Demanding Proof

In situations like this the law gives the school district 10 days to either accept their plan or specify any deficiency. The school district did neither.

Instead, the school district’s lawyer contacted HSLDA, upping the school district’s demand for proof of residency. The district based its argument on a law that requires proof for students who are going to attend public school.

The district then increased its demand further, calling the family and demanding that they bring their child in to the office so the school district personnel could see her and verify that she was 6 years old.

The family was flexible. With HSLDA’s assistance, they emailed a copy of two recent utility bills showing their current address, and a copy of their daughter’s birth certificate.

“Not good enough,” said the district. It refused to process the family’s homeschool paperwork.

Up to the Judge

HSLDA sued the district in February 2019, seeking a judgment that would force the school district to do its job: either accept the plan of instruction as sufficient, or point out specific ways that it did not comply with the homeschool law. The case has now been fully briefed and is in the hands of the judge (whose heart is in the hand of God (Prov. 21:1)).

This case frustrated me from the very beginning. The family hadn’t done anything wrong—they sent in everything that the homeschool law required them to—but they kept getting extra demands from the school district.

HSLDA is here to stand up for families who need help standing up to school districts who won’t do what the law says. Would you consider standing with us by joining or donating to our work to help us defend the rights of this 6-year-old and others like her?

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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