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March 7, 2012

Superintendent Threatens Termination of Homeschooling

Dee Black is senior counsel for member affairs in Pennsylvania. He and his wife homeschooled all four of their children. Read more >>

Earlier this month, Home School Legal Defense Association intervened on behalf of a member family in the Carmichaels Area School District whose superintendent had unlawfully threatened to terminate their home education program if they did not submit a mid-year evaluation. He also threatened to notify social services and the magistrate’s court of their “defiance” if they failed to follow his orders. He even had a police officer deliver a letter to the parents at their home, outlining his demands and the consequences of their failure to comply with them.

Under Pennsylvania law, a home education program must undergo an evaluation at the end of each school year, the results of which are submitted to the public school superintendent. The only other time a superintendent may compel parents to have their program evaluated is if he has a reasonable belief that an appropriate education may not be occurring during the school year. In this case, the superintendent had sent a letter to the parents at the beginning of the school year telling them that he was “approving” their request to homeschool, conditioned upon their submission of a mid-year evaluation. His threats to terminate their program came after they did not provide the evaluation in January.

HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt Black sent a letter to the superintendent and pointed out that at no time during the school year had he asserted that any of the children were not receiving an appropriate education. Black observed that the sole basis of the superintendent’s attempt to require the mid-year evaluation was his letter to the parents at the beginning of the school year, prior to the time that their children had begun to receive any instruction. Therefore, it was impossible for the superintendent to have had any basis to believe that the children were not receiving an appropriate education this year. After receiving HSLDA’s letter, the superintendent backed off from his demand.