Monday, February 21, 2011
Knowing Your Homeschooling Rights in Texas
We are blessed to be living in a state that has no homeschool regulation, but that doesn't exempt us from sometimes having to deal with others who are ignorant of the Texas Homeschool Laws. Occasionally, especially with those who pull children out of the public school system, find themselves face to face with CPS, truancy officers or a school district demanding proof of homeschooling. Hopefully this information will help you know what to do should one of these come knocking on your door.
1. Know the law.
Texas has no requirements, other than a courtesy letter to your school when you withdraw, for homeschooling. You are not required to get approval of your curriculum, use an accredited curriculum, have a teaching degree or check in with the public school. Once you hand the letter over and withdraw your child, you are completely free of any obligations to the school. There are no minimum hour requirements. Homeschools must be conducted in a bona fide manner, using a written curriculum consisting of reading, spelling, grammar, math and a course in good citizenship; no other requirements apply.
2. Know your rights.
We all hope that this never happens, but should an official come knocking on your door it is important that you know and are confident in your rights as a parent. First, stay calm and be polite. Manners go along way in diffusing emotional situations. Remember that as misguided as they are, most officials are trying to have the interests of your children in mind. Per the 4th amendment, you are not required to submit to any search that is not accompanied by an official search warrant. Even if you are being threatened, stand your ground. Even if you have nothing to hide, stand your ground. You should also say as little as possible to the agent.
If the agent persists without a search warrant you may want to consider calling the police, but I actually suggest you take step 3.
3. Call a lawyer right then and there.
The HSLDA is an organization specifically for homeschoolers who may find themselves in this situation. Because Texas is such a homeschool friendly state, most of us will probably be ok without joining, but if you find yourself facing a situation that you need a lawyer for they are well known. If you call the lawyer with the agent there, the lawyer is often able to get the agent to see reason.
Remember that no matter what is going on, that your attitude and how you handle the situation is a reflection of your testimony! Be sure that your reaction is firm, but still glorifying to God. Also, this post is not meant to scare. These cases are VERY rare in Texas!
I did my best to provide information that was helpful. I did not read every page of the sites that I referenced. Laws vary from state to state so be sure to check out your state's laws.