By Carolyn Tisdale
A Minnesota public school district is under fire after illegally mishandling a situation with two parents who were rightfully homeschooling their 17-year-old son.
According to a published news report from earlier this week, the Wayzata public school district in Hennepin County threatened to file criminal charges against a mother and father for what the school district disciplinary enforcers called a “refusal to file a mandatory notice of intent.” However, the parents exercised their rights and aggressively countered the threats.
“You have two days to give us the information we want or we are filing truancy charges,” said the enrollment secretary of Wayzata Public Schools regarding the parents’ homeschooling of their son. The parents subsequently consulted the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) on this troubling matter, which violated their rights.
The parents sought the assistance of the HSLDA out of the fears of constant harassment and possible prosecution. Attorneys for the HSLDA investigated the parents’ claim and quickly concluded that the school district’s threats were indeed unwarranted and completely illegal.
“Minnesota law explicitly states that a letter of intent to continue homeschooling is not required for a child over 16, as long as the family has notified school officials in previous years,” HSLDA Staff Attorney Michael Donnelly said. “This family had previously notified officials, so no further notice was required,” he continued.
HSLDA attorneys also found out in their investigation that the Wayzata public school district threatened the family before on numerous occasions. The HSLDA investigation was able to find a clear pattern of overreaching authority demonstrated by the school district, which attorneys called “commonplace.”
An HSLDA attorney who specializes in constitutional law went on to press the issue with the school district superintendent. After consistent pressure, the superintendent of the Wayzata public school district issued a statement of apology to the Hennepin County family at the center of this case.
However, HSLDA attorneys contend that this particular story is just the tip of the iceberg, stating that bully of homeschool families by Minnesota school public districts often does not get reported and remains a problem.
“Homeschooling is a large and growing movement, but situations like this show that small misunderstandings can have potentially serious consequences,” said the HSLDA in a statement.
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