HSLDA: Act Today to Stop Onerous DeKalb Truancy Ordinance

Logo of the Home School Legal Defense Association.

Logo of the Home School Legal Defense Association. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

We need your help immediately to stop a truancy ordinance that threatens your right to homeschool your children.

Tonight at 6:00 p.m. the DeKalb City Council will meet and possibly vote on an ordinance (Ordinance 13-52.92) that gives the public schools dramatic new power to define truancy. While it is not targeted at homeschoolers, we are the ones who could be hurt the most by it.

Action Requested if You Live in DeKalb

1. Please attend the meeting tonight at 200 S. Fourth St. to voice your opposition! Even if you do not speak, your presence will send a message. If you would like to speak, you may use the points outlined in the background section below, or explain your opposition in another way that is comfortable to you. If you wish to speak, fill out the information sheet as you enter the room and hand it to the secretary.

2. Please call the mayor and your alderman and express your opposition to the ordinance. He or she may have no idea that anyone opposes the ordinance. See the contact information below.

3. The best outcome for tonight would be a vote to defeat the ordinance. The next best outcome would be to postpone action on the ordinance until it can be studied more carefully.

Contact Information

Mayor: John Rey
815-748-2099
john.rey@cityofdekalb.com

1st Ward: David Jacobson
847-809-2074
David.Jacobson@cityofdekalb.com

2nd Ward: Bill Finucane
815-758-2820
bill.finucane@cityofdekalb.com

3rd Ward: Kristen Lash
815-217-0020
Kristen.Lash@cityofdekalb.com

4th Ward: Bob Snow
815-758-3376
bob.snow@cityofdekalb.com

5th Ward: Ron Naylor
815-756-2359
ronald.naylor@cityofdekalb.com

6th Ward: Dave Barker
815-739-1668
dave.baker@cityofdekalb.com

7th Ward: Monica Oleary
815-739-1668
Monica.Oleary@cityofdekalb.com

Background

Section (a)(1) of the ordinance defines truancy as absence without an “excused absence.” But section (a)(2) gives the public schools unlimited power to define what an excused absence is for everyone: “An excused absence shall be as defined by the School District.” The public school therefore, in effect, has the power to define truancy itself. This breathtaking power is an invitation to abuse power.

Section (a)(2) of the ordinance requires the parent to give advance notice of a child’s absence. This is ludicrous. Will families be forced to give advance notice that their child plans to be sick?

Section (d) of the proposed ordinance says that the only way for a family to defend themselves against a truancy charge is with “written documentation” that the absence was an excused absence. A judge might use this ordinance as reason to forbid a family from giving live, oral testimony in their own defense.

This bizarre demand means that a family could be in full compliance with state compulsory attendance law, but could be held guilty of an ordinance violation.

The ordinance gives the police sweeping power to arrest (“detain”) any homeschooled child they think might be truant. Once arrested, the ordinance allows the police officer to drop the homeschooled child off at the local public school!

Section (f) of the ordinance gives each family the opportunity to enter their own agreement with the chief of police about how to enforce the ordinance. Most families have no desire at all to enter any such agreement! But if some do, it could result in crazy quilt of enforcement procedures.

Under state law, once a child is 17 years of age, he is no longer subject to compulsory attendance. But the ordinance goes over this limit and applies to students until age 18.

The ordinance declares there is an “emergency” (the third “whereas” clause), thereby seeking to circumvent the usual timeline and process for adopting an ordinance. This means less time to study, consider the issues involved, or hear from the community. Furthermore, it is not credible that there is any such “emergency.” State law already forbids truancy.

The ordinance says a student must attend at the school to which he is “assigned.” The ordinance is unclear as to who has the power to “assign” the student to a school. A judge could read it as giving the local school the power to “assign” which school every child attends.

The ordinance uses the term “home school.” While that phrase is used in common parlance, it has no place in a legal document because there is no definition of “home school” either in state law or in the ordinance. A homeschool is legally a private school, and to protect our freedom it is important that we are treated exactly like all other private schools—and not carved out for special treatment.

Thank you for standing with us for freedom!

Sincerely,

Scott A. Woodruff, Esq.,
Senior Counsel,
Home School Legal Defense Association

P.S. We greatly value you and your support—it is a privilege to serve you. Thank you for all you do for freedom! If you or someone you know is not a member of HSLDA, will you consider taking a moment today to join or recommend us? Your support enables us to defend individual families threatened by government officials and protect homeschooling freedom for all.

Join now >>

The HSLDA E-lert Service is a service of:

Home School Legal Defense Association • P.O. Box 3000 • Purcellville, Virginia 20134-9000
Phone: (540) 338-5600 • Fax: (540) 338-2733 • Email: info@hslda.org
Web: http://www.hslda.org

© 2013 HSLDA. All rights reserved.

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5 thoughts on “HSLDA: Act Today to Stop Onerous DeKalb Truancy Ordinance

  1. Pingback: Homeschoolers to be Arrested/Detained Under DeKalb Truancy Ordinance « Minnesotans Against Common Core

  2. sounds like a well-intentioned, but horribly, HORRIBLY written law/ordinance. And poorly written law is no basis for good governance, since it’s what’s written that matters–not what’s intended…

    I’m not in DeKalb, or I’d be right there fighting it with y’all.

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  3. I graduated from high school at age 17. In addition, I attended college every morning (instead of my public school) from ages 16 to 17. This is a ridiculous law… in addition to the problems with homeschoolers, do they plan on dropping off college students and high school graduates at their local public schools if they’re under the age of 18?

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  4. Maybe I am cynical but sounds to me like enrollment is down in public school, which means less funding, which means less money for union bosses….sounds like a backdoor way to force more kids into the public school system.

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  5. does anyone know what happened or what the emergency supposedly was? sounds like tricky sneaky way to get a vote in without the public knowing. I do not believe they can trump state law, I believe the laws set forth by the state would have to be changed first i.e. the ages etc., if they voted this in it should be appealed. These people have forgotten their place or are not familiar with current law (happens all the time), there isn’t anything here that isn’t already addressed in current statutes, other than the haphazard compulsory age issue, which they can’t just on a whim go and change.

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