This North Carolina mom never expected state officials would try to block her from homeschooling just because she graduated from a high school in Mexico.
She had moved to the US with her husband several years ago to be closer to extended family.
Since then, her children had been attending public school, but this year the mom decided to switch to homeschooling. She was concerned her kids were not being academically challenged, and that they were being taught values that conflicted with her Christian faith.
She submitted all the required documents stating her intent to begin homeschooling. However, officials at the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE) objected to her high school diploma because it was printed in Spanish. They told the mom to provide a certified translation of the diploma in English.
The mom had never been asked to comply with such a request before and wondered how to proceed, so she contacted Home School Legal Defense Association. To make matters worse, the officials from the local public high school then said that unless her children returned to class, she risked going to court on truancy charges.
HSLDA staff attorney Amy Buchmeyer and her assistant Jane White spoke with the mom, advising her to formally withdraw her children from public school. Marilú Herrera, an HSLDA bilingual membership representative, assisted with the call.
Buchmeyer also contacted DNPE officials on behalf of the mom.
“I told them that North Carolina law says that in order to homeschool, parents need to have a valid high school diploma,” she recalled. “It doesn’t say anything about it being in English.”
Unfortunately, the education department remained silent on the diploma issue.
Instead, an attorney with the local public school telephoned Buchmeyer. Then a school official showed up at the family’s home. The mom called HSLDA, and Buchmeyer remained on the phone with her throughout the meeting.
But instead of escalating the situation into a legal crisis, the official suggested having the school’s translators provide a copy of the mom’s diploma in English.
They did, and the DNPE accepted the document.
The mom said she was grateful for HSLDA helping her family navigate the bureaucracy they faced so they could focus on homeschooling. She added that she believes this flexible, personalized educational option will keep her kids engaged in an environment that’s based on the tenets she and her husband value most.
“Everything we are doing is for the good of our kids,” she said. “Even though it is hard for us as the Hispanic community because we have language barriers and many of us don’t speak English well yet, there is nothing impossible for the Lord.”
Although North Carolina doesn’t have any specific requirements that homeschool instruction be conducted in English, it does require parents to test their child using a nationally standardized test or other nationally standardized equivalent measurement at least once during every school year. That test must measure achievement in the areas of English grammar, reading, spelling, and mathematics.
Buchmeyer said she was pleased the case ended on such a positive note.
“She said we made her feel safe,” Buchmeyer reported. “It’s nice to see that we helped a mom feel confident about homeschooling and that we made it possible for her to do it.”