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April 9, 2001
State v. Mrs. W
Mother harassed by school district

Filed: December 6, 2000, Lewisberry.

Nature of Case: A district justice dismissed the truancy charges against Mrs. W before the school district put on its first witness. Though 22 separate charges had been filed against Mrs. W in connection with her home instruction program, Judge Scott Gross held that the dispute had no place in his court.

The truancy charges stemmed from the school district's unreasonable and illegal demands. When Mrs. W returned her 10-year-old son to the public school on October 2, 2001, after five weeks of home education, the superintendent wanted Mrs. W's portfolio materials and an evaluation immediately-even though Pennsylvania law only requires them at the end of the school year. Then, he gave her a 10-day deadline in which to complete and submit the portfolio and evaluation, or face prosecution. (State law allows 30 days for home school parents to respond to such requests.)

Thirty days after receipt of the superintendent's warning, Mrs. W provided both the portfolio and an evaluation. Unfortunately, the superintendent had already initiated truancy charges. On January 31, 2001, HSLDA represented Mrs. W against these charges that were filed in blatant disregard for Pennsylvania home education law.

Ruling: The judge agreed that Mrs. W had not violated compulsory attendance law and dismissed the charges after each side made its opening statement.

Status: HSLDA is preparing a draft of a complaint in order to show the school officials that Mrs. W has a claim against them for malicious prosecution and abuse of process.

Last Updated: August 8, 2001.