“Yes, you’ve proven you’re homeschooling, but you haven’t proven that you have the right to homeschool.”
As the government social worker continued to harass Michelle and her family for their choice to homeschool, she didn’t know what to else do.
She had done everything they asked and followed all the directions they had given her, but the social worker wasn’t satisfied and now Michelle’s children were in danger.
That was until Michelle reached out to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association — and things began to change.
“Peace of mind. Protection. 24/7.”
That was attorney Mike Farris’s original goal in founding the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). As a homeschooling father himself, Farris knew that homeschooling families, especially those who homeschool for religious reasons, often face intense opposition.
“Families who [choose] such a ‘nontraditional’ education route often [encounter] opposition, sometimes even legal challenges, from the educational bureaucracy as well as from their own friends and relatives,” said Farris.
That’s exactly what happened to Michelle, a homeschooling mother in Florida.
When Michelle blocked an estranged family member from trying to contact her daughters, the family member took revenge by calling Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF). He told the social workers at the DCF that Michelle’s children “weren’t in school.”
It was a blatant lie, since homeschooling was legal in Florida and Michelle had already established her rights with the state when she began to homeschool her daughters.
Nevertheless, the DCF sent a social worker to investigate Michelle’s situation, and the worker quickly took it upon herself to invade Michelle’s privacy and accuse her of child neglect.
Michelle was confused, but she allowed the social worker to bring police officers into her home and question her children out of her presence. The conversation quickly turned to the social worker’s skepticism of homeschooling.
“She didn’t believe one person could possibly educate a child in all subjects,” Michelle said. But she showed the social worker her homeschooling materials and the proof of their education.
“I assumed that would be the end of this intrusion,” Michelle admitted.
But it wasn’t.
Over the next two months, the DCF worker continued to hound Michelle, demanding samples of her daughters’ schoolwork. Michelle complied again and again, and even reminded the social worker of the laws about homeschooling in Florida.
But the social worker asserted, “You’ve proven you’re homeschooling, but you haven’t proven that you have the right to homeschool.”
Michelle was indignant, and she was also at a loss to know what to do next. As she searched the internet for help, she found the HSLDA website.
“Feeling this was never going to end, and living in a constant state of panic, I called the HSLDA,” Michelle said. “I told them the entire story.”
HSLDA immediately stepped in to take control of the situation. They sent the DCF an official letter and prepared to represent Michelle in any future legal actions. In the face of HSLDA’s pressure, the social worker backed down and dropped all accusations against Michelle.
“[My attorney] was able, with one letter, to get this woman to close the case as an unfounded allegation,” Michelle reported gratefully. “I could have saved myself two months of stress, worry, tears, and aggravation had I simply been an [HSLDA] member in the first place.”
The goal of HSLDA is “to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms,” says Farris, the organization’s founder.
It’s completely constitutional for Christian parents to educate their children at home, and many families choose this option in order to protect their children from the world’s influences.
HSLDA believes these families should be able to educate their children without fear of reprisal from the government or their communities.
The organization has successfully defended many American homeschooling families in court, but also keeps many families out of court by simply calling or writing letters on their behalf.
And the organization does all of this for as low a cost as possible!
HSLDA operates on a membership system. “[We] bring together a large number of homeschooling families so that each can have a low-cost method of obtaining quality legal defense,” said Farris.
A year’s membership to HSLDA costs only a little over $100. Once a family joins HSLDA, there are no further charges for legal representation and court action. There are other membership benefits as well, such as grants, a 24/7 hotline, and homeschooling advice.
Thanks to HSLDA, Michelle and many other homeschooling parents can feel safe and secure in their decision to educate their children at home.
“I feel safe now,” Michelle said. “I made a wise decision…to gain legal protection.”
As the cultural tide turns ever farther from Christianity, those who choose to homeschool for faith-based reasons may find themselves opposed by their governments and communities. But HSLDA will be there, fighting to defend their rights.
Are you interested in homeschooling? Do you know a homeschooling family who would benefit from HSLDA’s counsel? Visit the organization’s website here.