The city of Baltimore has once again created conflict by unlawfully demanding that homeschool families enroll in public school. I addressed this issue less than two months ago and believed it was resolved. It was disappointing to see it surface again.

A family moved to Maryland from another state and decided to homeschool their children in Baltimore. They filed a proper notice of intent, but a local official told them: “You need to enroll your children first in the local public school, and then un-enroll them so they can be placed on the homeschool roster.” Sounds like nonsense, right?

This sounded wrong to the parents. They emailed an official at the Maryland State Department of Education. The reply from the official, however, seemed to confirm that Baltimore could indeed demand that the children first be enrolled in public school.

A Question of Authority

After the family asked Home School Legal Defense Association for help, I called the state official. We had a friendly conversation in which I explained that public schools have no authority to insist that a homeschool family enroll their children in public school.

The official agreed. We also agreed that the source of the problem was probably several poorly worded phrases in a state manual on which public school staff rely. The official agreed to pursue changes to the wording of the manual to reduce the likelihood of similar errors in the future.

All Maryland public school systems use the same state manual, but the problems are coming only from Baltimore. There may be a training or implementation problem in that jurisdiction. We can hope for more sensible administration of the laws going forward.