Sweeping demands for homeschooler info in Pa.
The Kauffman family recently received a letter from the principal of Altoona Area High School requesting more details about their homeschooled child. The homeschoolers were expecting a typical note acknowledging the district’s receipt of all the necessary documentation that they had already provided to school officials and were surprised by the aggressive demand.
Fearing the state government’s overreach concerning their child’s education, the homeschool mother questioned the motive and purpose behind the school district’s demand for more information, and the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) was soon contacted for legal advice on an appropriate response to subdue any invasive action on the part of the district.
“She’d been homeschooling successfully for six years without any problems, so why would the school now be scrutinizing her educational objectives?” HSLDA attorneys pondered after being informed about the principal’s problematic request.
Immediately responding to the allegedly unwarranted intrusion, HSLDA Staff Attorney Dan Beasley asked the principal to explain himself and his district’s demands for more information.
“The same statute requiring parents to file an outline of proposed education objectives also states that these documents ‘shall not be utilized by the superintendent in determining if the home education program is out of compliance,’” Beasley clarified in his letter to the principal.
States cannot overstep parents
HSLDA attorneys assert that even though school districts can provide educational goals for students, they cannot usurp parental rights.
“Public schools are free to develop and critique their own educational objectives, but parents are in the best position to determine the most appropriate objectives for their homeschooled children,” the Christian nonprofit legal group pointed out.
Addressing the overarching problem with the principal’s bold request for more information and rejection of the Kauffman’s home instruction, Beasley maintains that school officials are not in the position to place a stamp of disapproval on homeschools.
“[S]chool districts do not have the authority to withhold ‘approval’ of home education programs,” the homeschool attorney explained.
Beasley also noted that state law is on the Kauffman family’s side regarding the homeschool instruction of their teen.
“Parents who follow Pennsylvania’s statutory requirements are authorized by law to educate their children at home,” Beasley continued. “Their decision to do so is not subject to the approval of public school officials.”
Proceed as originally planned …
Once all of the legal matters were clarified to the Altoona Area School District, school officials immediately returned a favorable response to Beasley’s letter.
Soon afterward, a notification was submitted to the Kauffman family explaining that everything is now in order and that they are free to continue the home instruction of their child – in accordance with the documentation that they had already submitted to the district.