Substantial Challenge to Ohio Freedom to Homeschool
- Jim Mason, Esq. Senior Counsel, HSLDA
- 2013 7 Jul
A recent challenge to a homeschool family struck at the very essence of Ohio homeschoolers’ freedom: May Ohio families immediately start homeschooling after withdrawing their children from school and before receiving an excuse letter from the superintendent?
Desiree Brimmor (names changed to protect privacy) withdrew her daughter Allana from school and began homeschooling late in the 2012-2013 school year. Eleven-year-old Allana had experienced severe bullying, to the point that Brimmor was concerned for her safety.
In compliance with Ohio law, Brimmor submitted her notification of intent to homeschool to the superintendent of her school district the very next day after she withdrew Allana. But it took three weeks before she received a letter acknowledging that her daughter was excused from attending school for the school year.
In the meantime, the school where Allana had attended filed a complaint against Brimmor claiming that her daughter was a truant for missing 15 days in a 30-day period. Brimmor contacted HSLDA after receiving summons to appear in court for truancy.
The alleged 15 absences were between the time Brimmor withdrew her daughter and when she received the excuse letter. Apparently, the school argued that a parent violates the compulsory attendance law if she homeschools her child while waiting to receive the excuse letter from the superintendent. But if this interpretation of the law were true, a parent who wanted to homeschool a child in the middle of the school year would have to keep a child enrolled in the current school, or enroll the child in another private or public school, for the couple weeks that it usually takes the superintendent to issue the excuse letter.
This interpretation of Ohio homeschool law would be especially alarming in Brimmor’s case because her daughter could not remain at the school while she waited to receive the excuse letter. For her daughter’s safety, Brimmor had to be able to immediately withdraw her daughter and begin homeschooling. HSLDA strongly opposed the school’s interpretation of Ohio law because it limits the freedom of all homeschooling parents.
HSLDA represented Brimmor at her hearing, and, in a surprise twist, the school never appeared to make their arguments before the judge. Consequently, the court dismissed the case against Brimmor.
HSLDA needs your support not only to represent homeschoolers in court, but also to oppose restrictive interpretations of homeschool law that affects all homeschoolers. On behalf of the homeschool community, we appreciate your membership with us, and we encourage you to join now if that is a step you have yet to take.
Senior Counsel Jim Mason is a member of HSLDA’s litigation team. He and his wife homeschool.
Home School Legal Defense Association is a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms. Visit us online at www.HSLDA.org.
Publication date: July 10, 2013