When we received phone calls from three member families in Perry County Kentucky, I knew something was up. Each family told a slightly different story, but together they pointed to an all-out effort by local school officials to persuade these parents into sending their children back to the public school.
These contacts involved a variety of personnel and followed a pattern. Officials promised to ease students back into public school and make sure they had fun. If parents declined, officials increased the sales pressure.
One of the first homeschool moms to call us stated that a school nurse had telephoned to ask: “What can we do to convince you to send your child back to school in person?” When our member politely stated that her family wanted to continue to homeschool, the school nurse went into details about fun activities that students could be doing in school. Our member was also told that no testing would be required to re-enroll a child into school.
After our member insisted the third time that they would not be returning their child to the public school, the nurse stated that the district would call back in July and conduct home visits. The school official then asked our member how she would feel about that.
More Going On
When she finally got off the phone, our member learned that her husband had also received a phone call from the school district. Realizing that this was more than just curiosity from local school officials about their plans for next school year, and feeling like the school official’s pledge of follow-up contacts was an implied threat, our member quickly called us.
Several other families reported receiving similar calls—sometimes from multiple school officials who stressed all the fun things that homeschooled students were supposedly missing out on. Whenever a family declined to send their children back to school, the caller would warn that another contact would be made in the summer and that the district would start conducting random home visits.
And one family member did report being visited at home by Perry County school officials. In fact, three local school officials showed up in what the family described as a white unmarked police vehicle.
When our member family answered the door, these three individuals asked whether they would be sending their son back to school. When the family replied that they probably would continue to homeschool, one school official spoke about all the field trips they were planning to do.
While still at their door, another school official piped up and stated that many families had told them that the mask mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions caused them to pull their children out. He attempted to assure the family that this would not be the case this coming year. However, the family stated they had the opposite concern and wanted to protect their family and children. They then politely closed their door and contacted HSLDA.
We drafted a letter to the superintendent of Perry County Schools. I explained that the behavior of these school officials in harassing these homeschool families was completely unacceptable. We pointed out that each family had the right to educate their children at home, for whatever reason they considered important to themselves and their children. I reminded the superintendent that these parents were in compliance with Kentucky law and that continued intimidation of these families would not be tolerated. I insisted that the superintendent immediately direct all his staff to cease these calls and home visits.
We expect that Perry County will stop these unwanted calls and visits. However, we will be closely monitoring this situation. Over the years, both HSLDA and Christian Home Educators of Kentucky (CHEK) have seen attempts by school officials to entice parents to return to the public school system. We expect that more families could see similar behavior as school officials try to get more children to return.