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Homeschooling Mom’s Tire Slashed at State Capitol

by Scott Woodruff • February 21, 2018

When homeschooling mom Sara Valle volunteered to spend a day at the South Dakota Capitol promoting equal sports access for homeschoolers, she expected a battle.

What she didn’t expect was that the opposition to her advocacy would include far more than just arguments on the Capitol floor.

Longtime Advocate

Sara had been asked by South Dakota Christian Home Educators (SDCHE) to testify in support of H.B. 1120, a bill which would allow homeschool students to participate in public school sports. As a homeschooling veteran and mother of three, she was happy to advocate for more opportunities for homeschool students. She had also spoken the year before in a hearing about a similar bill.

On February 12, Sara left the capitol after a long day of debate on H.B. 1120 (which had ultimately been voted down). Her 13-year-old daughter was with her, and they were already late for the girl’s ice skating lessons. When they arrived at the skating rink, Sara and her daughter heard a strange sound coming from their car.

Upon closer inspection, Sara discovered the broken-off blade of a box cutter embedded in one of the tires, which had been steadily losing air.

At first, Sara said, she was in denial. She was hoping she had just run over the blade on the road—she couldn’t believe that someone would have slashed her tire. But when she and her husband took the car to the repair shop, the mechanic was certain this was not an accident, because the tire was slashed as well as punctured. Later, a friend of hers who is a police officer and a homeschooling dad pointed out that whoever had jabbed the blade into her tire had done it in such a way that it wouldn’t start deflating until she began driving.

For Sara, the realization that her tire was intentionally slashed was both shocking and infuriating. “I had my daughter in the car with me, driving with a punctured [tire],” she said. “I’m not okay with that. My kids are in that car. That’s the car I use for my children.”

Later that night, Sara reported the incident to the police.

Unpleasant Surprise

Sara knew going in that getting H.B. 1120 passed would be challenging. Public school superintendents from across the state had already been putting tremendous pressure on the legislature to abandon the bill. Several representatives told Sara and her allies that they believe in equal access for homeschoolers but couldn’t vote against the superintendents. And during the debate on the Capitol floor, Sara said, “the testimony got very passionate.”

“I really had realized that the people opposing the bill were not going to play nice with us,” she continued. “But I just didn’t realize that it would come in the form of stabbing my tire. I did not see that coming. It really made me feel unsafe . . . [especially] because two of my children are in public school. I’m around the schools, and I’m around these people—they live in the same city that I do.”

When it comes to advocating for more opportunities for homeschool students, however, Sara remains as determined as ever. “It makes me feel unsafe—but it doesn’t make me want to quit. I am not going to let their intimidation tactics work. If anything, this has made us band together more strongly as a homeschool community.”

Scott Woodruff

Senior Counsel

Scott is a seasoned attorney and homeschool advocate with decades of involvement in homeschool legal issues and cases. Read more.

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