Federal Relations

September 28, 2001

Police Threaten Michigan Family with Arrest for Home Schooling

In September, a police officer from the Allegan County, Michigan, Youth Services Bureau, which investigates truancy under the sheriff's department, visited a Home School Legal Defense Association member family to investigate an unconfirmed tip.

The mother told the police officer that the family was home schooling legally under state law, and, upon request, showed the children's curriculum. While acknowledging that the curriculum looked "fine," the officer challenged the parent's teaching qualifications: "You're not a teacher. You're not qualified. You need to be certified."

When the mother countered that home schooling was legal, the officer responded, "Not in this county. Last year we arrested all kinds of home schoolers. Home school teachers are lousy." Intimating that the local judge was not friendly toward home schooling, the official added that an arrest warrant was sometimes issued for families who failed to put their children in public school. The police officer left after implying that she would seek such a warrant.

Later the same day, this officer visited the children's grandmother at a separate location and told her that they "just wanted the kids in public school."

The family called HSLDA, and Senior Counsel Christopher Klicka contacted Allegan County Public Schools Learning Resource Unit supervisor, who said he knew of no home school families who were prosecuted last year and was surprised by this confrontation. However, he relayed a story to Klicka about another home school family in Ludington School District who had received a similar visit, during which two police officers pounded on the door and threatened the family. He then promised HSLDA that our member family would be left alone.

In addition, HSLDA asked Allegan County Youth Services Bureau to establish a new home school policy for all bureau members who follow up on tips concerning "truants," so families who are home schooling in compliance with state law would not be subjected to harassment by overly zealous truant officers.

Any HSLDA member family who receives such a visit should contact our legal staff immediately.