Natasha and Darrell Grant have something new to be grateful for this fall season: homeschooling. But the joy of homeschooling has not come without challenge, including a clash with truancy court.
After participating in the public school’s virtual school program all of last school year, the Grants decided to give homeschooling a try this fall. They notified each of their children’s schools that they would not be returning in the fall
when they picked up end-of-school-year records. Then over the summer, they turned their attention to homeschooling; they filed a declaration of intent, organized a curriculum, and officially started teaching their four children in August.
Everything seemed to be going great. Natasha says they were impressed with homeschooling, “seeing a lot more progress than before.”
Despite the educational success, the Grants faced a challenge related to a paperwork mix-up—and it had nothing to do with what the Grants did or didn’t do. Instead, it was caused by a glitch in the state’s communication with their local district.
Taken to Court
The Grants received a court summons in early October after a petition was filed in the local juvenile court, alleging that their children were in need of government intervention based on a lack of school attendance. This may have seemed like a routine
matter to the state, but it was anything but routine from the Grants’ perspective.
The petition came as a shock to the Grants because their children were learning more than ever before, and as Natasha noted, the only communication she had with the school was a phone call, on which she further clarified that their children were homeschooling.
Darrell Grant was particularly surprised because, as he put it, they simply would not allow their children to neglect their studies. In fact, it was concern about their children’s education that drove them to begin homeschooling.
Thankfully, the Grants would not have to face the court alone.
One of my favorite things about my job as a staff attorney for HSLDA is being able to provide peace of mind to parents who find themselves facing legal difficulty simply because they choose to homeschool. Working through our local counsel, attorney Clay
Stebbins, we contacted the prosecuting attorney and provided the needed context for dismissal: the Grants were homeschooling in compliance with Georgia law, and it was the district that had made a mistake.
Still, the prosecutor was initially reluctant to just dismiss the case without the Grants presenting evidence of their children’s educational progress. While the Grants had plenty of evidence available, we pushed back because it is the prosecutor
who had to prove there was merit in the state’s allegation that the Grant children were in need of services.
Eventually, the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case without a hearing, which was a win for everyone.
Prosecutions like this are not always malicious, but they can cause a significant burden on homeschooling families that is entirely unnecessary.
Regardless of the level of hostility shown by government actors, HSLDA is ready to go to bat for homeschooling parents who are committed to providing the best educational program for their children. By supporting HSLDA, you are standing with families like the Grants.