A Tennessee mother who started homeschooling her autistic son in order to protect him from an unsettling public school environment soon found herself in court. That’s when Home School Legal Defense Association stepped in.
DARREN JONESHSLDA litigation attorney
Our member’s son had attended public school for many years, but when his high school was locked down last December after someone made a threat against a school worker, he became increasingly anxious about having to return each day. After researching various options, his mother decided to change both his home and school environments. They moved out of the city, and she withdrew him from the city public school to start homeschooling.
The mother then contacted the county education office to find out what paperwork she needed to submit to begin homeschooling. The office did not return her calls for over two weeks. That didn’t stop our member from teaching; she began homeschooling her son as soon as they moved, and she filed her notice of intent as soon as the county office sent her the proper form.
Unfortunately, officials at the son’s former school in the city did not communicate with the tardy county school office. The school filed a truancy case against the mother, claiming that the son was an “unruly child” who was illegally out of school.
HSLDA filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that Tennessee law clearly gives parents 30 days after withdrawing a child from public school to file their notice of intent to homeschool. The judge agreed, and after talking to the city school representatives, we were successful in getting the charge dismissed.
Our member later wrote, “Thank you for choosing to dedicate the resources, time, and professional services necessary to defend our family. [The local HSLDA attorney’s] sensitivity to my autistic son’s anxiety during the court proceeding touched my heart.”