Gov’t Official Warns Homeschoolers: Prepare For Home Visits*
By Daniel Jennings
Homeschool families in two different states are facing increased scrutiny from local officials that critics are calling an invasion of privacy.
To make matters worse, local officials in Kentucky and Mississippi are making demands of homeschool families that could be in violation of state laws.
The director of pupil personnel in Gallatin County, Kentucky, sent out letters informing parents that
“in the coming year, county officials would visit the home of every homeschool program,” said T.J. Schmidt, a staff attorney at the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).
The letter demanded a wide variety of information, including attendance records and report cards, each of which are required. But it went beyond that.
“It asked parents to indicate whether they specifically intended to follow the local school calendar,” Schmidt wrote.
“It also insisted that parents inform the school district about how they were going to keep attendance records and how their instructional days would be documented.
The requests, he said, “exceeded the school’s authority under Kentucky law.”
The director backed down after receiving a letter from Schmidt.
“Schmidt informed [the director] that the forms requested information well beyond that required under Kentucky law,” an HSDLA press release noted.
“He also informed the county that home visits would violate each homeschooling individual’s privacy rights, and that HSLDA would challenge any attempt to carry out these visits. Schmidt requested that the county notify all homeschool families that they would be dropping these extra-legal requirements.”
The county agreed with Schmidt, and letters were sent to homeschool families telling them to ignore the packet they had just received.
Illegal Demands in Mississippi
Meanwhile, a school official in Adams County, Mississippi (Natchez) also made illegal demands of homeschoolers, another HSLDA press release charges.
Mississippi state law requires homeschoolers to fill out a certificate of enrollment and turn it into an official called the attendance officer. When an unidentified mother in Natchez approached the local attendance officer for the certificate, she was told she would have to produce receipts indicating she had purchased textbooks and other educational materials, even though that is not required by the law.
“I want proof so I know that you’re homeschooling,” the attendance officer allegedly said. “Some people say they’re going to homeschool and then don’t.”
The mother contacted HSDLA, and senior counsel Dewitt Black sent the attendance officer a letter stating that the receipts were not required by state law. Further, Black wrote,
“should you refuse to provide [our member] with the enrollment form and thereby prevent her from complying with the law, you will have waived the requirement that this form be completed and submitted to you.”
A few days later, the officer called Black back and offered to drive to the mother’s home and deliver the certificate in person.
It looks that in some locations, homeschooling is becoming far more difficult than it once was.