Homeschool Under Fire
Homeschoolers get knock on door from police
superintendent sends out squad cars to ensure compliance
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Art Moore
© 2002 WorldNetDaily.com
school superintendent has sent police in squad cars to the houses of
homeschooling families to deliver his demand that they appear for a
"pre-trial hearing" to prove they are in compliance with the law.
Dennison, regional superintendent of schools in Bureau, Stark, and
Henry counties in Northeastern Illinois, has contacted more than 22
families, insisting that they need his approval to conduct education
is exceeding his authority, according to Chris Klicka of the
Homeschool Legal Defense Association, or HSLDA, who argues that
homeschooling is legal in Illinois and families do not need school
district approval to teach their own children.
muscling the homeschoolers pretty heavily," Klicka told WorldNetDaily.
"One truant officer told a family that he 'could take away the kids if
he wanted to.'"
district attorney in the area has threatened to prosecute families
that do not submit to requests to have their program approved, said
law is straightforward and simple, Klicka insists. A 1950 Illinois
Supreme Court decision, People v. Levisen, established that
homeschooling falls under the requirements of a private school.
Private schools are required only to teach the same branches of
instruction as public schools and to do it in the English language.
was not available for comment.
situation is one of many around the nation addressed by HSLDA in which
school districts and government officials are seeking to wield greater
control over home-based education. The U.S. now has as many as 2
million homeschoolers, according to some estimates.
of California is
warning parents that they cannot educate their children at home
without acquiring a professional teaching credential. Officials
maintain this stance despite a statute that allows any parent to
homeschool under a private school exemption. Homeschool defenders note
that districts are motivated to keep as many children in public school
as possible because funds are allotted per student.
said other superintendents in Illinois accept the procedure for
homeschooling in the state that his group advises, which is to prepare
a "statement of assurance."
family is contacted, according to Klicka, they say, "We've established
a private school in our home pursuant to the Levison case. We're
teaching the same branches of instruction as public schools."
Christine Fortune told WND that two squad cars showed up at her house
in Geneseo, Ill., in Henry County, in late October to deliver a letter
demanding that she appear at a "pre-trial" hearing.
police cruiser pulled into her driveway, another parked on the street.
One policeman then accompanied a truant officer and case worker to her
door, while the other police officer waited in his car.
very angry," said Fortune, who homeschools her 14-year-old daughter
Stephanie. "[My children] were really perplexed why the police were
coming for me. It was way overkill for something that was not even a
certified, subpoena kind of letter. It was just something they could
have popped in the mail."
who served as a substitute public school teacher in the country for
about 10 years, said she had homeschooled prior to this school year
without any interference.
said that if a superintendent had evidence that a family is lying or
is fraudulent, he should refer it to the prosecutor, but "this
superintendent is thinking, 'I've got to approve the curriculum, I've
got to check up on the parents.'"
Homeschoolers are under no legal obligation to attend "pre-trial
hearings," which have no standards or guarantees, Klicka maintains.
not really 'pre-trial' because there are no charges filed," he said.
"It's just part of the intimidation tactics."
questioned, the district attorney had no idea what standards would be
used to judge a homeschooler's curriculum, Klicka said.
18, just four or five days prior to the police-escorted visit to
Fortune's house, the homeschool mother allowed a case worker from the
school district to come into her home. HSLDA contends that mandatory
home visits are violations of a family's right to privacy and the
right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, as
guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment.
phone, [the case worker] said she wanted to review the curriculum and
see if I needed any help – is how she was phrasing it," Fortune said.
worker was escorted to a room to see the computer-based curriculum
Fortune's daughter uses.
beauty of that program is it's perfect for any questions she would
have," Fortune said. "It has a record of grades and the things that
have been done and lesson plans. I could have just produced that for
her very easily, but she never asked."
said Fortune, the case worker "was fixated on attendance records."
struck Fortune as being rather odd: "I said, 'I don't do that – we
don't punch a time clock. I just write down what we do.'"
telling her," said Fortune, "'[My children] live here; they haven't
been absent once from the home.'"
police visit, Fortune has been referring all communication to HSLDA,
which is helping another three of the more than 22 families who are in
a similar situation. Membership with the Virginia-based group allows
homeschool families to take advantage of their legal resources.
said he is advising his member families not to go to the hearings or
allow home visits but to "stand on a simple letter declaring they are
legally homeschooling as a private school."
November issue of WND's monthly Whistleblower magazine, titled
"THE FLIGHT FROM PUBLIC SCHOOLS," focuses cover-to-cover on the
ever-worsening government education system, and explores the