Bulletin #35            Inaccurate State Statute Information                        08/16/04

 

Did you know? Inaccurate information about the laws that apply to homeschooling in different states is being disseminated? NHELD wants to know why.

 

This was emailed to us from a CT homeschooler:

This is an article written by the Associated Press dated 7/29/04. This site is a PA website, but since the AP wrote it, any paper or website can choose to publish it. It is a short list of what states require which kind of notification that the parent is homeschooling (or other info such as which states require testing). HSLDA is credited as the source and once again they have the wrong info for CT. CT is in the list of "states requiring parents to send notification, test scores and/or professional evaluation of student progress".

The AP (Associated Press) wires recently passed along this inaccurate information regarding state homeschool laws, through the article mentioned in the email that AP published and distributed nationally. NHELD decided to issue this bulletin after becoming aware of this particular article, (which is not the first), quoting information distributed to major media outlets by HSLDA [Homeschool Legal Defense Association] purporting to state the requirements of laws in several states, including the state of Connecticut. The article was posted at http://www.timesleader.com/mld/timesleader/9273133.htm

 

For some time now, NHELD has been aware that this national homeschooling organization has been disseminating inaccurate information about Connecticut homeschool law, but we have not made a public issue of that fact. Instead, we have repeatedly entreated the attorneys running that organization to correct the information that they disseminate. To date, HLSDA has refused to make the corrections.

 

So that you can judge for yourself, take a look at the applicable Connecticut statutes and then take a look at what HSLDA is telling the public about Connecticut law. Then ask yourself, is HSLDA providing inaccurate information about the laws in your state? http://hslda.org/laws

 

The reality is this:

Connecticut does not have a "homeschool" law per se. Connecticut has a law that outlines the "Duties of Parents". It is Connecticut General Statute §10-184. http://www.cga.ct.gov/2005/pub/Chap168.htm#Sec10-184.htm

 

It states:

"Sec. 10-184. Duties of parents. School attendance age requirements. All parents and those who have the care of children shall bring them up in some lawful and honest employment and instruct them or cause them to be instructed in reading, writing, spelling, English grammar, geography, arithmetic and United States history and in citizenship, including a study of the town, state and federal governments. Subject to the provisions of this section and section 10-15c, each parent or other person having control of a child five years of age and over and under eighteen years of age shall cause such child to attend a public school regularly during the hours and terms the public school in the district in which such child resides is in session, unless such child is a high school graduate or the parent or person having control of such child is able to show that the child is elsewhere receiving equivalent instruction in the studies taught in the public schools. The parent or person having control of a child sixteen or seventeen years of age may consent, as provided in this section, to such child's withdrawal from school. Such parent or person shall personally appear at the school district office and sign a withdrawal form. The school district shall provide such parent or person with information on the educational options available in the school system and in the community. The parent or person having control of a child five years of age shall have the option of not sending the child to school until the child is six years of age and the parent or person having control of a child six years of age shall have the option of not sending the child to school until the child is seven years of age. The parent or person shall exercise such option by personally appearing at the school district office and signing an option form. The school district shall provide the parent or person with information on the educational opportunities available in the school system."

 

This is the only statute that applies to what is commonly called "homeschooling". The most important sentence in that statute for parents who "homeschool" is the first sentence. It places a very strong mandate upon parents. It states that "all parents shall instruct" or "cause them to be instructed…." in those subjects listed. This is not a choice for parents. This is a statutory mandate. What is the mandate? The mandate is that all parents shall instruct their children. Nowhere in that sentence or in that statute does it require parents to obtain permission, or approval from the local public school district, or provide notices of intent to the local public school district, or say anything about equivalent instruction.  Local public school districts have absolutely no authority or control over parents who instruct their children in those subjects. Only when parents do not instruct their own children but, instead, cause their children to be instructed, do the parents become obligated to send the children of certain ages to public school, unless the parents are able to show that they are being educated elsewhere (in a private school).

 

The CT State Department of Education issued a "Suggested Procedure for Home Instruction". That "Suggested Procedure" states that parents must file a Notice of Intent and attend a portfolio review. Because it was never adopted as a statute or an administrative regulation, it remains a "Suggested Procedure" only, one that parents may choose to follow or choose not to follow.

 

Here is what HSLDA analysis says about Connecticut law on its website….

http://hslda.org/laws/default.asp?State=CT

HomeSchool Statute: No specific statute, but the Department of Education has passed specific home school "procedures" which are described below:

" A homeschool may operate if the parent "is able to show that the child is elsewhere receiving equivalent instruction in the studies taught in public schools." The duty of the local school board is to "…cause each child [of school age]… to attend school in accordance with the provisions of CGS 10-184."

 

And they go on to list the information from the DOE guidelines.

 

Not only is this inaccurate and misleading, but, most importantly, there is one fact that is glaringly missing. Nowhere on the HSLDA website does there appear the first sentence of Connecticut General Statute §10-184! You know, the one that clearly says, "All parents shall instruct their children". NHELD has one question, Why?

 

NHELD posed that question directly to HSLDA. HSLDA simply indicates that it has a different opinion of what the law means. Yet this is erroneous information that is being disseminated to national news outlets! We continually see articles regarding homeschooling that imply that CT is a mildly regulated state, when we have no regulations at all, except the one sentence that mandates us to instruct our children or cause them to be instructed! The erroneous information always comes back to HSLDA's erroneous interpretation of our law!

 

NHELD believes in HSLDA’s right to function in the manner it chooses and recognizes HSLDA’s past efforts to protect the rights of parents. NHELD and other Connecticut parents repeatedly have notified HSLDA that it is disseminating inaccurate legal information about this state’s law. So far, HSLDA has not corrected the inaccuracies.

 

The lesson here is that one must never rely on other websites or news articles, especially national ones, for interpretation of their state laws.

 

This problem only emphasizes the need for all parents on their own to look up the statutes, administrative regulations, and policies. Read them, understand them, and keep copies of them. Make all government officials abide by them. Do not accept what anyone else tells you about what your state’s laws mean, unless they are licensed to practice law in your state and have some background working with the homeschool statutes in your state. Always check and double check all information when it comes to protecting your freedom. If you don’t agree with what your state laws say, ask your legislature to change them.

 

Attorney Deborah Stevenson - Executive Director of National Home Education Legal Defense. –

 www.nheld.com or email : info@nheld.com

Judy Aron - Director of Research, NHELD – imjfaron@sbcglobal.net