Homeschooling families in Jackson County, Florida were targeted recently in a massive disciplinary initiative conducted by the local public school district called “Operation Round Up.”
According to the website of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), homeschooling parents in Jackson County, Florida became worried about whether or not their children would be taken away in the local school district’s dragnet, which was organized to combat truancy.
A local family that is a member of the HSLDA contacted the organization’s field office after hearing the director of the Jackson County School Board’s division of student services encourage people on live television to target homeschooling parents and assist them with her agency’s operation.
“[Homeschooling families are] not set on a particular schedule, so sometimes the community will see them around town, and they think, ‘Hey, they aren’t being educated.’ Sometimes the community is right,” the director said.
SLDA Staff Attorney T.J. Schmidt wrote a letter to the student services director and to the Jackson County School Board’s superintendent. Schmidt’s letter partially read:
“Your statements suggest that everyone should report children they think aren’t being educated. In our opinion, this is a threatening practice, and will instill a spirit of suspicion and hostility against homeschoolers in the community.”
Schmidt also expressed additional concerns, adding:
“We are very interested in knowing what the policy of the Jackson County school board is when coming into contact with homeschooling families. We would appreciate knowing whether local truancy officials understand Florida law when it comes to homeschooling and who is responsible for training in this area. We would like the opportunity to be able to provide Jackson County and specifically all those involved with ‘Operation Round Up’ with some material that might be helpful when school district officials come in contact with homeschooling families.”