Good news for homeschooling and the rule of law!
On Tuesday, the Maine Department of Education (DOE) announced it was rescinding its demand for certain information that the law does not require homeschool families to give.
The announcement comes after months of advocacy that culminated in a letter from Home School Legal Defense Association informing state officials of our intention to explore legal action.
HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff praised all who worked for this victory in an email to supporters on Tuesday.
“The many Maine families who withstood truancy threats and continued to defy the groundless demands played an important part in this epic reversal,” Scott wrote.
He also recognized the efforts of homeschool advocates and state Representative Heidi Sampson.
“Homeschoolers of Maine [the statewide organization] played a pivotal leadership role in standing strong and rallying families to resist the unlawful demands,” Scott noted in his email.
How it Started
The crisis arose when state education officials began insisting that parents include on their homeschool notice of intent the birth dates of their students—not simply each student’s age, as the law requires.
Officials in some public school districts returned notices that lacked student’s birth dates, claiming they were improperly filed. The public school superintendent in Freeport included a message to homeschool parents saying their children’s “truant status may be corrected by properly re-filing the notice of intent to homeschool with the required information.”
The problem is that the statute addressing how to homeschool legally in Maine is explicit in requiring parents to report only each student’s “name and age.”
In our view, Maine’s education officials were misinterpreting the law to gain private information they valued at the expense of families who only want what is best for their kids.
As HSLDA Vice President of Litigation James Mason put it in his letter to the state, “It is disappointing that high government officials would ignore the plain meaning of the statutes they administer. It magnifies the problem when those same government officials accuse law-abiding citizens with violating the law when the citizen fully complies with the words the Maine State Legislature included in the statute.”
He added that HSLDA recently won a case in the Virginia Supreme Court defending a homeschool family in a similar situation. And we are ready to defend Maine families as well.
Fortunately, the Maine DOE announcement should go a long way toward resolving the current crisis.