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Homeschooling Court Cases

While often legal homeschooling is based on legislation, there are also court cases that set precedent for the rights for parents to educate their children through home education


Protecting Ourselves from Truancy and CPS Investigations: Avoiding Referrals
The following factors may result in a referral: Pulling children out of public or private school after a dispute with the school (i.e.: ongoing truancy problems); custody battles; welfare referrals; or neighborhood disputes. As long as children are healthy, happy, involved with the community, and appear to be learning and thriving, the likelihood of a referral is reduced. By Linda J. Conrad Jansen, Esq.

Practical Education Law for the Twenty-first Century

Chapter 6: Home Schooling, School Choice, Charter Schools, and Other Alternative Schools

Practical Education Law for the Twenty-first Century
by Victoria J. Dodd
Dodd has organized Practical Education Law for the Twenty-First Century into ten chapters, each dealing with a substantive area in educational law. Within each chapter are a number of concise sections that address specific legal concerns. Chapter 6 is about homeschooling, charter schools, and other alternative schools. In the Look-Inside, click on the Table of Contents on Chapter 6 or one of its subtitles to get information.

Court Cases – Precedents for Homeschool Laws

Brunelle Decision by the Supreme Judical Court
The plaintiffs sought a declaration that the school committee’s policy to require home visits violates their rights under Massachusetts law, and injunctive relief enforcing the declaration.

Calabretta v Floyd
This case involves whether a social worker and a police officer were entitled to qualified immunity, for a coerced entry into a home to investigate suspected child abuse, interrogation of a child, and strip search of a child, conducted without a search warrant and without a special exigency. The Calabrettas are a Christian homeschool family in California.

Care and Protection of Charles
MHLA presents the turning point legislation that is the homeschooling law for Massachusetts.

Care and Protection of Ivan
In the present case, it was always open to the parents to work out an accommodation of their interests along the lines suggested by school authorities and to resolve the matter by agreement. However, the judge found that the parents never filed educational plans that were minimally adequate within the guidelines set forth in Charles.

Coming of Age in an Unfree Society
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Bryant family continues a five-year-old court battle which, though located on the battleground of homeschooling, is part of the much larger War Against Parents waged by the Nanny State against those parents who exercise their right to rear their offspring. By Cathy Henderson.

Evidence for Homeschooling: Constitutional Analysis in Light of Social Science Research
By Deborah Schwarzer, et al. The paper is based largely on the brief that they wrote and submitted about the efficacy of homeschooling.

“In re Rachel L.” decision – 3/5/08
The “In re Rachel L.” decision handed down by the Court of Appeal of the State of California, Second Appellate District, in Los Angeles County, on Febuary 28, 2008, has become too controversial to ignore.

Kentucky home-schooler wins victory
A Kentucky circuit court judge overruled a lower-court’s decision to force a home-schooled teen into public school until she was 18, saying home schooling is a fundamental parental right. By Julie Foster. World Net Daily, June 6, 2001.

Legal Case Sometimes Cited by School Officials
People v. Turner (1953), In re Shinn (1961), and Sherbert v. Verner (1963). Summaries.

Gentle Spirit Case: Seelhoff vs. Welch

Sherman Antitrust Act
Sue Welch, publisher of Teaching Home was found guilty of violating this law by her actions toward Cheryl Seelhoff, publisher of Gentle Spirit.

The Truth about Cheryl
by Shay Seaborne. Michael Boutot, Sue Welch, Mary Pride and Gregg Harris were not Cheryl’s mentors, confidants, friends, spiritual advisors or superiors; they knew her little more than by name. Still, each chose to join a campaign that used personal information against Cheryl’s business. Exerted on a lesser spirit, that might have resulted in disaster. But Cheryl chose to fight.

US Supreme Court Cases

Pierce v. Society of Sisters
268 U.S. 510 (1925) In 1925, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Oregon’s law prohibiting parents from sending their children to private schools in Pierce v. Society of Sisters. In its decision, the Court recognized the rights of parents to direct their children’s education.

Wisconsin v. Yoder
406 U.S. 205 (1972) In 1972, the Court further defined parents’ rights to direct their children’s education in the case of Wisconsin v. Yoder. The Court recognized the right of Amish parents not to comply with compulsory attendance laws once their children completed eighth grade, if compliance would violate the parents’ free exercise of their religion.

Troxel v. Granville
No. 99-138. In June 2000, the Supreme Court again upheld parents’ fundamental right to make decisions concerning the care, custody and control of their children. In Troxel v. Granville, the Court invalidated a Washington state law that allowed a court to grant child visitation rights to “any person” whenever the court finds that visitation was in the child’s best interest. The Court ruled that this law unconstitutionally allowed a court to overrule the wishes of a fit, custodial parent.

State Supreme Court Cases

Nebraska Supreme Court rules in homeschooling case
The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled in May 2013 that parents who homeschool their children are not under a deadline to begin teaching them, as long as the minimum instruction hours for the year are met by June 30.

Holy Snit
Texas did not declare that all children whose families believe the Rapture is imminent are exempt from schooling, nor did a family argue anything of the sort in a recent court case. Updated: Jun 28, 2016.

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