January 23, 2002

Colorado District's "Payoff" of Home Schoolers Fails

In October 2001, Home School Legal Defense Association reported that the Colorado Board of Education was looking into a new tactic that Sargent School District had introduced—paying home school families $600 to "enroll" in public school for a short period of time. This would enable the school district to increase its budget by receiving $1,200 extra from the state for each of these "temporarily" enrolled students.

HSLDA opposed Sargent's program for several reasons, including the probability that it would increase government regulation and the fact that it would waste taxpayers' money. We urged our members not to participate in questionable schemes like this one. By "blowing the whistle" on this program in our Weekly Update and on our website, HSLDA drew the attention of citizens in Colorado and a state school board member. This seemed to create a "chain reaction," ending up with a condemnation from the Attorney General's office.

A recent article in the Denver Post confirms our concerns and described the outcome. As explained in the article, "state education officials refused to pay the district" for the home schooled students. Now, the school district is locked in a battle with the Colorado Department of Education to determine whether or not this contrivance was legal.

Interestingly, of the 36 home school students enticed to Sargent for three days at $600 apiece, six ended up enrolling full time in public school and five enrolled part time. Home schoolers need to remain wary of government subsidies.

According to the article, the education department is seeking "a tightening of the rules" during this legislative season. We assume that this is in relation to public school funding, but we will monitor and vigorously oppose any effort to restrict home schooling in Colorado.

 Other Resources

See the complete text of the Denver Post article

Colorado School District Adopts New Tactic

Colorado - Revisiting Sargent School District's "Payoff" Gambit