September 10, 2001

'No Phone Number, No Approval,' Says Massachusetts District

Like many other families who want to avoid unwanted hassles and maintain some privacy, Mr. and Mrs. E have an unlisted telephone number. Therefore, when these Home School Legal Defense Association members filled out their school district's Home Schooling Information form, they decided not to include their phone number.

In a letter dated August 28, 2001, the Plymouth County School Committee informed the E family that the committee had voted to deny the family's request to provide a home education program solely for the "lack of phone contact."

Neither the Massachusetts statute relating to home education (Mass. Ann. Laws ch. 76 1), nor the leading Massachusetts case (Care and Protection of Charles) state that a family must supply a telephone number. On that basis, therefore, a school committee does not have the power to require a phone number. In addition, in this age of rampant consumer fraud, HSLDA does not believe that parents should be required to submit this information.

HSLDA is working with the family to appeal the committee's denial. We believe that this case may set a lasting precedent and help bring an end to other arbitrary and illegal home school policies imposed by school districts throughout Massachusetts.