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August 23, 2013

On the Case:

Mistake Escalates to Court Hearing

Staff attorney Darren Jones is a member of HSLDA’s litigation team. He and his wife currently homeschool. Read more >>

A Tennessee court dropped truancy charges against a homeschooling member family after HSLDA established to the prosecutor that the family was homeschooling legally.

At the beginning of the school year, after their daughter had attended five days at a local public school, a Tennessee family enrolled with a church school and began homeschooling. The family verbally notified the child’s teacher they would be homeschooling, but the school continued to record the student as absent, not withdrawn. Based on bad advice from the public school teacher, the family mistakenly did not notify the school of the withdrawal in writing. An investigator from the school subsequently visited the family to inquire into the supposed absences.

Satellite School

One of the legal options to homeschool in Tennessee is to enroll a child with an established church school and teach the child at the child’s home which is a satellite campus of the school. The homeschooling mother showed the investigator that her daughter was enrolled with a church school and believed that the issue was closed. Nevertheless, the investigator was unconvinced that the daughter was not truant. Five months after the initial contact, the family received a court summons for alleged truancy and immediately contacted HSLDA.

HSLDA defended the family at the court hearing. Because the public school had never removed the homeschooled child from its attendance rolls, the school insisted that the child was absent since the time she stopped attending classes. HSLDA explained Tennessee homeschool law and showed that the family had been homeschooling legally from the beginning of the year. Still, the judge wanted to see proof that the child had been regularly attending her homeschool program. HSLDA contacted the prosecutor before the next hearing with proof of the family’s homeschool program, and the judge consequently dismissed the case at the request of the prosecutor.

On HSLDA’s state pages, we provide our members withdrawal forms if they are withdrawing from public school to homeschool. Our defense of this Tennessee member family was important to defend all homeschoolers’ rights, just as your support of HSLDA makes that defense possible. If you are not yet a member, please consider joining. To our members, thank you.