May 16, 2001

The Right Way to Go about It

Grand Traverse County, Michigan — A local support group was surprised to get a letter from the local prosecuting attorney not a threat of any sort, but a request for help.

The Grand Traverse Prosecuting Attorney's Office is concerned that some families may be withdrawing their children from school, not due to a sincere desire to home school them, but in an attempt to avoid disciplinary procedures due to either attendance or academic problems in the public school. To ensure these families realize that, should they fail to actually home school, they are subject to prosecution for truancy and/or educational neglect, the attorney's office drafted a letter explaining Michigan's home school law to send to families who withdrew while facing problems in the public school.

However, instead of just sending this rather intimidating letter out to new home schooling families, the attorney's office sent it to a local support group to review and comment on! The support group contacted Home School Legal Defense Association. Our attorneys read the proposed draft and submitted several suggestions.

HSLDA's position is that families who attempt to satisfy the home school law of their state should be presumed to be bona fide, even if facing disciplinary problems at the time they begin. Should the prosecutor have credible facts of non-compliance with the law, then the family can be prosecuted for truancy. Even if there may be a tiny fraction of families using home schooling as a sham to avoid problems in the public school, that is no justification for seeking more regulation of ALL home schoolers. Unfortunately, HSLDA sees many school officials across the nation using this faulty logic far too often. However, from the way the Grand Traverse Prosecuting Attorney's Office has started out, we assume they will not take this approach.

We commend Grand Traverse's efforts to respect the rights of dedicated parents to chose home education for their children.