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January 29, 2013

On the Case:

The Case that Never Ends—Finally Does

Staff Attorney Darren Jones is a member of HSLDA’s litigation team. He and his wife homeschool.

Tennessee homeschoolers John and Kathy Donaldsen (names changed to protect privacy) thought the misguided truancy case against them would never end.

At the end of last school year, the Donaldsens decided to homeschool their 11-year-old son Noah. Although they withdrew Noah from public school and enrolled in a church-related school, officials at the public school continued to count Noah absent after he was withdrawn. The Donaldsens subsequently received a court summons for truancy.

Thinking that their situation could be easily explained, the Donaldsens decided to represent themselves. At the first hearing, Kathy Donaldsen brought proof that her son was legally homeschooling. She even showed the court her curriculum and receipt for enrollment in a church-related school, one of the legal options for homeschooling in Tennessee.

Help Requested

The judge apparently was unfamiliar with this legal option to homeschool. She declined to dismiss the case and scheduled a follow-up hearing to review samples of Noah’s schoolwork. At the second hearing, Kathy Donaldsen brought Noah’s portfolio. After the judge scheduled a third hearing to check up on Noah’s progress reports and to interview Noah directly, the Donaldsens contacted HSLDA.

It is always our preference to be notified about legal difficulties at the earliest possible opportunity. Sometimes matters get so far down the road that we can’t help. But after a careful review of their case, we decided to assist the Donaldsens.

At the next hearing, the judge immediately dismissed the case.

Home School Legal Defense Association will be celebrating 30 years of defending homeschool freedom this year. Our attorneys are homeschooling parents or homeschool graduates who have years of experience defending your right to educate your children at home. HSLDA members not only join with our attorneys, but also thousands of homeschool families, to further homeschooling freedoms.

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