Having made the decision to homeschool children, most parents think that they will be left on their own to educate their kids. Unfortunately, this is not the case in the Kentucky school district where some parents are receiving visits from officials. The reasons given are that the officials want to check the students and help the parents.
The Homeschool Legal Defence Association (HSLDA) has been informed of these visits and say that not only are they considered to be an infringement on homeschoolers, but is is unwanted, and – more importantly – it is illegal.
“Just last month, several families in the Paris Independent School District reported being visited by school officials,” HSLDA Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt said. “If no one was at home, the visit was marked by a doorhanger.”
Kentucky has a statewide agreement in place which respects homeschool families and their right to privacy. A public has a legal requirement to check attendance records, homeschools are considered to be private and are therefore not required to open their homes to school officials, who request to see documents. The officials do not have any right to arrive and ask to see any documentation unless there is a valid cause for concern.
The only reason that officials may check up on parents are if the family removed the child in the middle of the school term. In this case the visits were considered normal.
“Home school check. Please give us a call,” read one of the district’s markers.
It seems that officials arrive unannounced to check up on children, even requesting to speak to them at times. Parents who reported the visits to HSDLA said that they felt it was as if ‘big brother’ was watching over them.
“[It is] disturbing that [Paris Independent Schools] have a supply of pre-printed doorhangers ready for when they make unannounced visits to your home,” the parent commented on the Kentucky Homeschooling Facebook page.
Jenny Griffith was one such parent who received a visit from two officials who questioned her about attendance records. The officials intended to visit three or four times a year.
“Two school officials who visited parent Jenny Griffith at her home said the district intends to visit every homeschool family three times this year,” Schmidt recounted. “As part of their plan to help families, the school officials asked about attendance records and curriculum. Before leaving, one official asked Jenny about meeting her child.”
“I got the impression that district staff could become more difficult if I didn’t cooperate in answering their questions or bring out my child to meet them,” Jenny explained. “I tried to handle the situation as civilly as possible – without adding any threat to them.”
HSDLA explained that under Kentucky law, once the parents had notified the school of the intention to homeschool, the school presumed that the homeschool was a bona fida operation and left the family alone. They agreed that leaving door hangers when the family was not at home was a form of harassment and against Kentucky law.
“Under Kentucky law, a homeschool program operates as a private school,” Schmidt stressed. “While private schools are required to keep attendance and scholarship records (i.e. report cards) in the same manner as the local public school, homeschooling parents do not need to open their homes and present these documents simply because a school official comes knocking.”
“Families who homeschool are exercising their right to direct the education of their children,” Schmidt maintained. “Because this is a fundamental right, an agreement was reached over 20 years ago between the statewide homeschool organizations – including Christian Home Educators of Kentucky (CHEK), and the Kentucky Directors of Pupil Personnel.”
“This agreement – commonly known as the Best Practices Document – makes it clear that any parents who notify their district within two weeks of the beginning of school that they are teaching their children in their home are presumed to be operating a bona fide private school,” Schmidt informed. “Unless school officials receive some report or have some evidence that the parents are not educating their children, no further inquiry should be made.”
“The policy is somewhat different for parents who begin homeschooling their children in the middle of the school year,” the Christian lawyer added. “In these cases, families do occasionally receive a visit from their local school officials – like some homeschooling parents who recently began teaching their children in Scott County and Lee County. These families received visits and/or a doorhanger requesting a call back. Most of these school officials wanted to see the children’s curriculum and work samples.”
Along with a well known homeschool group in the district, HSDLA has contacted the school in question , and now expects the school to stop the plan to conduct visits throughout the year. Both HSDLA and the homeschool group will be continuing to monitor the visits.
“Cindy West – a local CHEK representative and veteran homeschooling mom in Bourbon County – and I have contacted the Paris Independent School District, objecting to the home visits of homeschooling parents who are legally operating their private school in compliance with state law,” Schmidt declared. “We expect the district to halt its plan to conduct these visits throughout the school year, but will be continuing to monitor the situation.”
Source: One News Now