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Rhode Island
Rhode Island

May 15, 2006

HSLDA Appeals After Board Tries to Shut Down a Homeschool

Home School Legal Defense Association has come to the aid of a member family in West Warwick after the school committee rescinded approval of the family's homeschool program.

The Fooks family filed a plan that included submitting a single year-end assessment, which the school committee approved. When the Superintendent threatened to ask the school committee to rescind their approval on the basis that the family was not submitting a mid-year assessment, HSLDA attorney Scott Woodruff wrote him a letter. Woodruff explained that the family was following the plan the school committee had approved, and assured him the family would submit a year-end assessment, as the plan called for.

The Superintendent repeated his demand for a mid-year assessment and his recision threat. Woodruff wrote a seven-point letter carefully outlining why recision would be wrong. He explained:

  1. The family was following an approved plan.
  2. Rhode Island statutes do not give school committees power to rescind approval during the school year once it has been given.
  3. The family had submitted year-end assessments in previous years, and these were always accepted.
  4. The school committee has no written policy requiring more than one assessment per year.
  5. Since the family is homeschooling in response to a call from God, their homeschool program is entitled to the protection of Rhode Island's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RIGL 42-80.1 et seq.). This act prohibits an agency from restricting the exercise of religious freedom unless it is essential to furthering a compelling governmental interest, and a less restrictive option is not available.
  6. The family has a right to direct the education of their children under the Fourteenth Amendment.
  7. The Rhode Island homeschool statute is unconstitutional because it creates standards which cannot be objectively and consistently be administered.

Following the wishes of the Superintendent, the school committee voted 5-0 to rescind approval of the family's homeschool program. HSLDA is now in the process of appealing this unjust decision to the Rhode Island Commissioner of Education.

 Other Resources

Homeschooling in Rhode Island: A Legal Analysis