They came as representatives of the local public education system, and they claimed all they wanted was to help with homeschooling.
But the member family who called us afterward didn’t see it that way.
Several homeschooling families in Estill County, Kentucky, received home visits over the summer from two local school officials—the director of pupil personnel and a middle school assistant principal.
The pair said they wanted to confirm that families who had declared their intention to switch to homeschooling this fall really meant it.
Their insistent manner and probing questions, however, left our member feeling that this was more than just a friendly social house call.
The officials began by asking if the mom was aware of all the programs the school district had to offer. Then they queried her about the curriculum she planned to use. Without thinking much about it, she rattled off the titles a few textbooks.
When one official directed the other to write this information down, the mom grew uneasy. Her discomfort deepened as she realized that she was being pressured to let the officials into her home. But she stood her ground and kept them outside.
After this visit, she contacted Home School Legal Defense Association to ask us to respond to these school officials, object to their behavior, and warn other families.
After talking with our member, I attempted to contact the director of pupil personnel about the reason for his home visit. However, I received a return call from the superintendent of schools for Estill County, Jeffery Saylor.
Mr. Saylor told me that school officials were visiting most families who were new to homeschooling to make sure they had everything they needed and knew what to do.
I also got the impression that the district was attempting persuade people to return to the public schools. When I pointed out that a family who had been visited was concerned about all the probing questions regarding their homeschool program, Saylor brushed off those concerns and assured me his director of pupil personnel would never harass homeschool parents.
Saylor said that the director had grown up in a poor family in the community and was sensitive to the views of people about local government officials. It was clear from the conversation that Saylor considered any concern about harassment of homeschoolers a non-issue due to the director’s humble beginnings.
Nonetheless, I reminded Saylor that homeschool families have a right to teach their children at home, and that once they submit their notice of intent within the first two weeks of school, they are presumed to be operating a bona-fide school. I also pointed out that, over 40 years ago, the Supreme Court of Kentucky held that the commonwealth is prohibited under Section 5 of the state Constitution to dictate textbooks or curriculum for use in a private or parochial school (see Kentucky State BD., etc. v Rudasill [589 S.W.2d 877]).
I made it very clear that HSLDA would defend the decision of any parents to educate their children using the educational materials of their choice.
I informed Saylor that conducting home visits to attempt to pressure homeschool families about their decision to educate their children at home was not acceptable to us. I assured him that we would be closely monitoring Estill County in the future and wouldn’t hesitate to assist parents who felt harassed about their decision to homeschool.
We have seen similar attempts in Kentucky over the past few weeks by school officials to question the parents’ choice to homeschool and request information about their curriculum. While no parent should be fearful of contact from their local school officials, no parent should have to explain the reason they are homeschooling or submit their homeschool curriculum for review by officials. That is one of the fundamental reasons why HSLDA is here for you!