Homeschooling has been around for decades. If you think about it, way before any learning institution was ever built, parents were probably teaching their kids at home. It is just that the term “Homeschool” was not yet coined at the time and nobody bothered to designate a name for it because that was how things were done that time. With no learning institutions available, there was no other way. And then, over the years, homeschooling has gained popularity. Now, there are organizations dedicated to making sure that parents can teach their kids at home without being left behind in terms of the material and curriculum to be used. Homeschoolers have shown an increase in number since it was legalized in the United States. However, there are still those who believe that homeschooling is not a sufficient form of education for children. As a matter of fact, back in 2008, a three-judge panel of the California Court of Appeals ruled that children must be taught by a credentialed tutor or someone with a teaching credential. They tried to dismiss the concept of homeschooling by saying that the education of children at home, whatever the quality may be, does not qualify for the private full-time day school or credentialed tutor exemptions from compulsory education in a public full-time day school. Good thing, in August of that same year, the court overturned its decision and legalized homeschooling in California.
This is just one example which shows that not everyone is in favor of homeschooling. The mere existence of Home School Legal Defense Association or HSLDA means that there are those who are really against it. Not only are there people who are non-believers of the concept of homeschooling, there are even some who would go as far as trying to remove it from the education system. HSLDA has shared some of these instances on their website. Let us read through a few of those cases.
First is the case of a homeschooler, which was marked absent every day at a high school in Omaha, Nebraska. The story began when a family decided to enroll their daughter for a semester at Westside High School. Then, after one semester, they decided to return her to homeschooling and move to California. Little did they know, the Dean of Students at Westside High School was not pleased with what they did. They were informed that their daughter will be marked absent every day without excuse until Westside High School receives a records request from their daughter’s new public school. It was a good thing that HSLDA was able to help because there will be no records request unless they enroll her to a public school. Plus, the girl was being homeschooled legally in compliance to the state law of California so there was no need to mark her absent at Westside High School any more.
Another one is the case of a family who turned down the adoption subsidy for their daughter. A family adopted their daughter just last year and began homeschooling her. Part of the adoption process is the provision of a monthly adoption subsidy for children with a medical or special educational need until they reach 18 years of age. Adoption subsidy is to be renewed every year. However, the family decided that they will provide for their daughter’s needs on their own. They had a meeting with their caseworker and informed her that they will not be taking any more of the state money as adoption subsidy. Then, a week later, they got the surprise of their lives because they were reported for suspected child abuse or maltreatment and their entire family could be investigated. When they tried to get to the bottom of things regarding the reason behind the allegations, they found out that it was because their child was not enrolled in school and they refused to accept the adoption subsidy. They clearly were not expecting any of these because the caseworker was aware about the child being homeschooled and their reason for not accepting the subsidy. The family sought the help of HSLDA who is now on top of things awaiting the decision of the Department of Social Services.
There is also a case where a caseworker is simply not allowing two students to be homeschooled. These two teenage boys are suffering from chronic illness. Their parents initially tried “homebound instruction” as their form of education. Homebound instruction is only applicable to students who cannot attend school because of special circumstances, in this case, a medical condition. Homebound instruction still requires the attendance of its students on their scheduled appointments. Suffering from chronic illnesses, these two boys end up missing some of these appointments because of doctor visits and checkups. Next thing they know, the school district had filed a complaint with Child Protection Services, accusing the parents of educational neglect. The family has been responsible in submitting the necessary medical documentation from physicians and nurse practitioners, yet the school district refused to accept the notes simply because the boys’ doctors were from a different state. The family then decided to just pursue homeschooling. The caseworker stopped them and informed them that the only time they can begin homeschooling their kids is after the school district approved their individualized home instruction plan (IHIP). Despite the fact that the family has followed each and every step for a smooth transition to homeschooling, the caseworker was being stubborn and would not allow the boys to be homeschooled. HSLDA once again has come to the rescue. Knowing that the caseworker had no business whatsoever in making such decisions, the HSLDA decided to discuss the matter with the legal representative of the school district. The school district’s attorney ruled in favor of the boys and only required the family to inform the school district in writing that homebound instruction is no longer necessary.
Looking at these scenarios and cases handled by the HSLDA, some may think that the government is against homeschooling. But then again, one can only speculate. Homeschooling is clearly not the issue. In fact, it has been the solution to some of these families. Whether it is a case of poor judgement on the part of the caseworkers, or just plain lack of knowledge regarding state laws and procedures concerning homeschooling, it must be addressed immediately.