In response to an increase of homeschooling families being visited by officials making truancy or welfare checks on children, I sent a letter to the state superintendent of public instruction pointing out the problem. I stated:
Such uninvited and unannounced visits from uniformed police, truancy staff, or teachers are inconsistent with the American jurisprudential presumptions of innocence and that parents act in the best interests of their children. See Pierce v Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1924) and Parham v J.R., 442 U.S. 584 (1979). Because it is incumbent on government officials to respect the constitutional rights of every citizen, including the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution which protects every American from unwarranted intrusion into their “persons, houses, papers, and effects,” I am requesting your urgent assistance in stopping these unnecessary and unlawful visits from government agents to the homes of law-abiding homeschooling families.
I was contacted by Chief Counsel for the Department Immy Singh. We discussed these concerns at length.
In response, the Ohio Department of Education recently sent a best practice reminder to Ohio’s 1,000 local education agencies recommending that they should “consider homeschool notices when following up on absences” as “absent students may be homeschooling.”
The email further encouraged local education authorities to “not refer households for home visits in the case where a homeschool notice has been received.”
I commend the department and its staff for responding to the homeschooling community’s concerns and taking steps to address them. This is a welcome response by the ODE, which has, over the years, demonstrated a noticeable level of respect towards the homeschooling community. The department maintains a website with information for the public relating to home education in Ohio.
Working with CHEO government relations liaison Melanie Elsey, I have tried to develop a positive working relationship with the department. In a state where the education department is the regulatory agency, this has been important and helpful. This is why it is important to vote for homeschool-friendly legislators as well as state school board members in the upcoming election.
With over 600 or so local superintendents and many tens of thousands of homeschooling families, there is bound to be some friction every year. We have been busy resolving these problems and appreciate the support of our members.