When homeschool graduate Gabriella McMillion applied for a job as a blood bank lab technician in October, two things about the opportunity stood out to her. First, it would give her a chance to use skills she obtained in college. Second and more importantly, it offered a schedule that fit the needs of her growing family.
So, Gabriella was excited when the Pennsylvania employer called to say the job was hers—on one condition. The background-check company the business used wanted Gabriella to prove that her homeschool diploma was valid.
This unexpected obstacle left Gabriella perplexed. As far as she could tell, the company’s request for documentation was based on a faulty understanding of education law.
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Families who homeschool in Pennsylvania are required to send paperwork—including a declaration or notarized affidavit—to their local public school superintendent every year.
Problem is, Gabriella was homeschooled in a different state.
“I was trying to get them to understand that in Michigan, the homeschool laws are different,” she explained.
This miscommunication also meant that despite her qualifications, Gabriella risked missing out on a job that could help provide stability for her family after a series of life changes.
After finishing high school, Gabriella attended college for two years. When COVID-19 shut down in-person classes, she changed her focus to earning an income, sometimes working as many as three jobs at once.
Then, in 2021, her mother died following a protracted illness. But this tragic milestone was soon eclipsed by two joyous events: in June 2021, Gabriella married Kaleb McMillion; then in June of this year, she gave birth to their first child.
Because of these changes, Gabriella was excited at the prospect of landing the lab-tech job. She said it would provide an income and a predictable schedule to help their family until she could set up her own business and work from home.
But first, she needed to convince her prospective employer that her homeschool diploma complied with the law.
Gabriella said her efforts were hampered by the fact the background check company used a web form that limited the information she could provide. The form didn't give her the option to select that she was homeschooled in Michigan, making it impossible to accurately complete the background check.
And of course, Gabriella’s homeschool would not have been listed because Michigan law does not require any such registration. Though the statute does mandate that homeschools use an organized educational program covering certain subjects, parents do not have to notify local authorities that they are teaching their children at home.
Finding herself at an impasse, Gabriella remembered her parents had been longtime members of HSLDA. At one point, when she was very young, her family had called HSLDA for assistance in dealing with a child protective services investigation prompted by a false report.
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“You were very helpful during that time,” Gabriella recalled, “and I hoped that you would help again.”
So, Gabriella contacted HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff, who sent a letter to the employer on her behalf.
Scott affirmed that Gabriella’s parents had homeschooled according to state law, which “allows them to certify that their daughter has completed a course of study at the high school level,” and that Gabriella “was issued a legal and valid high school diploma.”
Seven minutes after emailing a copy of the letter, Scott heard from the employer, who said Gabriella was cleared to accept the job.
Gabriella said she appreciated HSLDA’s assistance, adding that the lab-tech work should help her move toward her ultimate goal: “I’m going to homeschool my kids,” she declared.