Monday, December 17, 2007

Utah Homeschool Mom Threatened With Jail

Well, this sounds awful - but I believe some pertinent facts may have been left out of this story.
A homeschooling mom in Utah has been ordered by a judge to enroll her children in a public school district within 24 hours, and have them in class tomorrow, all because of a paperwork glitch that very well could be the fault of the district.


It seems that an affidavit she faxed to the local school district for the 2006-2007 school year, documenting her homeschooling plans, was lost by the district. So when she went to court with her juvenile son to have the charges dismissed (under a case held in abeyance procedure) stemming from a clash among children, she suddenly was presented with four counts against her for failing to comply with the state's compulsory education requirement.


She thought she was meeting the court's demands earlier when she enrolled her two youngest children in classes, and put her two older children in an online curriculum connected to the public school.

"Well everything fell apart in court today. I had to enroll my two oldest in public school. They start on Monday. If I didn't the judge said I would lose custody of my children. He threw out the plea and we go to trial on January 9th. I have NO CHANCE with this judge. He will find me guilty. He already has. So I will probably be spending some time in jail. Please pray for my children," she noted in an online forum connected to a "Five In A Row" homeschool curriculum she had used when her children were younger.

She said her public defender had reached a plea agreement she thought would be satisfied by her action, an agreement hammered out with the prosecutor. However, the judge rejected everything, she told WND.

Here are the lessons to be learned from this homeschool parent:

1.) If you file - save the paperwork - make sure you have proof !
"She said she had received a confirmation the fax to the school was received when she sent it, but likes to clean out her paperwork before the start of a new school year, and apparently had disposed of it."
This woman faxed her paperwork and disposed of the proof that she faxed it. She has no proof that she filed the paperwork to the school other than her own copies. If you cannot prove that you followed the law to a judge then you are out of luck.

2.) She apparently made some sort of plea deal with the prosecutor as well.
"She thought she was meeting the court's demands earlier when she enrolled her two youngest children in classes, and put her two older children in an online curriculum connected to the public school. "
If you have a plea deal then you have to adhere to it. You'd better be careful what you agree to do. Also, the plea has to be agreed to by the court which seems not to have been the case here. Plea deals have their own set of rules. It is not clear what the plea deal was or when it was made.

3.) Understand your state laws with regard to home education.

4.) Stay out of court if possible. Sometimes misunderstandings can be cleared up directly with the school, and other parties involved.

And yet, she has an exemption and seems to have been cleared to homeschool for 2007-08, so why does anything that happened on 2006-07 have any bearing on this school year? Why would the judge be ordering her to send her kids to school now if she already has an exemption for this school year?

There are missing facts here.

UPDATE: Dana over at Principled Discovery has more information on this story.


christinemm said...

Thanks for blogging this story. I had not heard it. Loved your comments and I agree.

I can see being tidy but when keeping records of our children's schooling and proof of submission of state mandated reports, save everything, period.

I personally would not just fax it (if they wanted a fax) but would snail mail a copy registered mail with return receipt. Then keep all that proof!

dana said...

My comment turned into a post of its own. I think a lot is missing in the report, but it looks like her state association may be helping her which is good.

The case appears to be more about the case in the abeyance procedure (her son with Asperger's apparently assaulted another girl). It isn't just about missing paperwork, but that this paperwork proves that she followed the judge's previous orders that he needed to do well in school as part of the procedure.

Anyway, here is everything I could find. (And I mean everything!)

Principled Discovery

Tracy said...

I am with you that something has been left out of this story. I lived in Colorado right on the Utah border for years, and Utah is one of the states which is more friendly and open to homeschool parents.

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