January 23, 2002

Illinois Family Protected from Prosecution

In December, Home School Legal Defense Association reported on efforts to help a member family in Illinois, where Mr. and Mrs. B. were being harassed by a determined truant officer. Although a letter from an HSLDA attorney usually resolves such conflicts, DeKalb County refused to drop the issue and even threatened prosecution.

Mr. and Mrs. B. teach their children at home under the very favorable Illinois private school law. This law does not require any contact with the school district, so they were surprised when the local truant officer began pursuing them, trying to set up a meeting to discuss their home schooling.

The officer first called the family, then wrote a letter citing concerns about their home education program. He tried repeatedly to schedule an appointment to meet with both the parents and the children to "verify that you are successfully educating your children." In addition, he showed up at the family's home and left a notice stating that the children were absent from school and demanding that the family contact him.

When Mr. and Mrs. B. contacted HSLDA, we immediately wrote DeKalb County, explaining that Illinois law does not require any such meeting and demanding that the officer cease harassing the family.

However, the truant officer turned the family over to the district attorney. Reminding the parents that they could face charges if they did not provide an adequate education, the district attorney's office wrote that Mr. and Mrs. B. were being considered for truancy charges and would need to offer proof of their home school program at a meeting with regional school district officials.

HSLDA called the regional superintendent and explained how Illinois' education laws allow families to home school. We verified that Mr. and Mrs. B were in compliance with all home school requirements and instructed them to send a letter of assurance to the superintendent.

The matter has now been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties, and the district attorney's office has agreed to drop the matter.

Please link to related article, Truant Officer Hassles Illinois Family, at: http://www.hslda.org/docs/news/hslda/200112106.asp