November 5, 2001

Rhode Island School District Arbitrarily Denies Home Schooling Programs

East Providence School District has begun denying most families' applications to home school without providing any justification. Even though Rhode Island recognizes home schooling as a constitutional right, the law requires families who want to exercise this right to apply to the district school committee each year for approval. In many cases, this is merely a formality: the parents give the committee information about their home schooling program and usually receive "rubber-stamped" approval.

However, East Providence suddenly started rejecting these applications without explanation. In a recent meeting, 11 out of 14 families were refused approval to home school. One family had to bend over backwards to meet school district demands, including putting one child into public school, before they were approved.

Home School Legal Defense Association wrote East Providence, seeking an explanation for the denials, but we have heard nothing-even though the school district promised us in a telephone conversation that they would send a written explanation. Under Rhode Island law, families are allowed to appeal to the Commissioner of Education, and HSLDA is representing several of our member families in such an appeal.

Please keep the home schooling families of East Providence in prayer. We will update this story as events unfold.