December 3, 2001

Michigan Contact Leads to History Lesson

When Traverse City Area Public Schools demanded that a Home School Legal Defense Association member family register as a home school, the family promptly turned to HSLDA for help. We wrote a letter to the school district explaining that registration is not necessary under state law and briefly outlining the development of Michigan's home education law.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, numerous families in Michigan were extraordinarily harassed by local districts and the state department of education simply because they chose to teach their children at home. Many parents were taken to court. During those years, HSLDA represented thousands of families whose right to home school was being challenged by the state. Fortunately for these families, the Michigan Supreme Court, in HSLDA's case, People v. DeJonge, 501 N.W.2d 127, (Mich. 1993), ruled in favor of home schooling families and found the state's teacher certification requirement an unconstitutional violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

A few years later, the state legislature enacted a law reaffirming the fundamental right of all parents, including home school parents, to choose the form of education that they deem best for their children. Michigan Compiled Laws Annotated (MCLA) 380.01 states: "It is the natural, fundamental right of parents and legal guardians to determine and direct the care, teaching, and education of their children."

Finally, the right to choose home schooling and have it remain free from unnecessary state regulation and supervision was specifically protected in the home school exemption MCLA 380.1561 (3)(f). This law encompasses all the legal obligations of a home school family in the State of Michigan: "The child is being educated at the child's home by his or her parent or legal guardian in an organized educational program in the subject areas of reading, spelling, mathematics, science, history, civics, literature, writing, and English grammar."

The combination of these factors makes Michigan one of the best states in which to home school today!