In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan issued an executive order on April 2, closing all school buildings and “temporarily suspending” all “in-person” instruction of students in kindergarten through 12th grade. This included public and nonpublic school students.

Although there was no apparent intent to prevent families from homeschooling, the order technically applied to many who homeschool under the nonpublic school option. And, the broad “suspension” of all “in-person” instruction certainly could have been construed to apply to anyone—including homeschool parents—teaching any student.

Home School Legal Defense Association believes that the governor never had any authority to suspend or otherwise interfere with nonpublic schools in Michigan and, to the extent her order sought to do so, was void ab initio (a fancy legal term basically meaning “invalid to begin with”).

Who's in Charge

In a statement, our friends at the Great Lakes Justice Center also pointed out that Michigan has an elected school board that is charged with operating public schools.

Attorney David Kallman, founder of the think tank and a longtime homeschooling advocate, wrote that the governor’s order could be interpreted to ban home education.

“While this may be an unintended consequence of faulty drafting, the EO’s plain language bans all ‘in-person instruction’ of all children for the rest of this school year,” the statement reads. This includes parents “directly teaching their children at home.”

Within a day, FAQs related to the governor’s order were updated to clarify that it does not prohibit homeschooling.

Citizens may be interested in reviewing the governor’s entire order relating to education as well as related Michigan statutes from 1945 and 1976 regarding the governor’s emergency powers.

Defending Liberty

As HSLDA continues to monitor legislation related to COVID-19 at our legislative action center, we commend organizations like the Great Lakes Justice Center for their important work.

Homeschooling freedom demands the work of national, state, and local citizen organizations. While it is an important and necessary function of government to protect the health and safety of all citizens, it is equally important that government actions be in accordance with the rule of law. Our constitutions and laws are based on the American founding principle of self-governance.

HSLDA has launched MomPossible to help everyone suddenly schooling at home in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The site is packed with helpful downloads and videos for anyone who is grappling with educating their children at home.

HSLDA’s mission to make homeschooling possible hasn’t changed. We need the support of all freedom-loving citizens. Join HSLDA today to support homeschooling freedom.