Most homeschoolers in Pennsylvania (ourselves included) manage to teach our kids at home with little to no trouble from public school officials. The biggest problem we have had is that the school district routinely requests the results of our children’s physical exams, rather than just proof that they have had the required exams. We just gently submit the required information, and do not give them the information that they are not entitled to.
But occasionally, the public school officials blatantly violate the law. Here is an example from nearby in Western PA:
On November 5, 2007, the superintendent of General McLane School District notified a Home School Legal Defense Association member family that he had terminated their home education program because they had failed to submit quarterly reports to his office. According to the superintendent’s letter to the family, he had approved their program at the beginning of the school year on the condition that the quarterly reports be submitted “to insure sufficient work had been completed and that you are on track in your instruction.” Knowing that state law did not require the quarterly reports, the mother serving as the supervisor of the home education program did not submit the documentation to the superintendent. The superintendent’s letter stated that the mother was required to enroll her son in the public elementary school within three days. It also threatened the mother with truancy charges should she not enroll her son in public school by the deadline established by the superintendent.
HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt Black immediately faxed a letter to the superintendent informing him that state law did not permit local school districts to require submission of quarterly reports in a home education program. He explained that the family in question was in full compliance with Pennsylvania’s homeschool law and did not intend to submit the quarterly reports, stop homeschooling their son, or enroll him in public school.
To date, the superintendent has made no further attempts to enforce submission of the unauthorized quarterly reports and has brought no truancy charges against the family.
The PA homeschool law is not difficult to read. At the beginning of the year you submit a notarized affidavit saying that you will be homeschooling, affirming that you are have not been convicted of certain crimes, and that you have a minimal education level. You include the subjects that you will be teaching. During the year you keep a portfolio and a log of your daily activites, and at the end of the year you get it evaluated by a certified teacher, and then you submit the portfolio and the log, with the evaluation, to the school district. Only annual reports are required, not quarterly reports, so the superintendent was not acting legally.
Homeschooling has come a long way for the days when it was illegal in some states, and homeschoolers were routinely harassed as truants. So we should be thankful that these days are mostly in the past. Now when a public school offiicial misbehaves he can be silenced with a letter from a lawyer.
However, it seems that when an official is ignorant of the law and messes with someone’s life like this, that they should be held accountable. Perhaps he should be sentenced to a day or two of “diversity training” so that he learns more about the rights of homeschoolers.