By: Krystle Crossman
Jackson County, Florida has created a new initiative called “Operation Round-Up” which they state is an effort to crack down on the number of truant students in the school district. However it is causing problems for homeschooling students as well. The Director of Student Services for the Jackson County School Board urged everyone during a meeting to report any child that they thought was being truant from school directly to her. After this request aired on television one homeschool family reached out for legal advice. They were afraid that the public school system was going to try and take their children out of homeschooling and force them into public school.
The director stated on television during the interview that she felt that most homeschool children were not being educated by their parents and that they needed to be in public schools where they will actually learn something. She also said that other people in the community wonder if the kids are getting the education that they need or deserve when they see these families out and about during the day when other kids are at school. Even the local television station that the interview was being aired on spoke out and said that the kids were not learning what they needed to be when they are homeschooled. They asked the community to speak up against homeschool families in the area if they felt that the children were not getting a proper education.
At this point the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) stepped in to intervene. They advised the school board that this practice was threatening and would not be allowed. They told them that this turned into a manhunt for homeschool children when they ask the community to watch for children that they thought weren’t being educated properly. Attorney TJ Schmidt with the HSLDA tried to educate the group on what homeschooling was all about and how the education that they were receiving was just as good, if not better, than the kids in the public school in an effort to make them understand that this practice was not right. The HSLDA advised that any initiatives like this should be reported as they are greatly interfering with the parents’ rights on how their children are educated.