Homeschoolers sue NYC for ignoring regs, leaving them exposed to child protective services
December 6, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has filed a lawsuit against the City of New York for what they call "systematic mistreatment" of homeschooling families in New York City. HSLDA says that New York City's homeschool infrastructure is archaic and creates unnecessary burdens for homeschooling families, school officials, and social workers. The lawsuit seeks to fix these issues by requiring the city's bureaucracy to follow the state's homeschool regulations.
"Family after family have found themselves in legal limbo because the central office simply cannot or will not follow the timelines in the regulation," said James Mason, HSLDA's Director of Litigation. "More than one homeschooling family told me they had been turned over to CPS (Child Protective Services) because of the office's delayed handling of the homeschooling paperwork."
The issue was brought to a head with the case of Tanya Acevedo, a homeschooling mother in New York City who had withdrawn her child from public school to homeschool him, following every step to the letter. Nonetheless, Tanya was visited by a social worker at 7:00pm, one month after beginning to homeschool, because the system was showing that her son was truant.
New York City's administrative functions relating to homeschooling for all school districts are located in one office that is understaffed and underfunded. The city often requires homeschooling parents to pick up and file paperwork in person (paperwork can be sent back by certified mail), which results in delays and, sometimes, lost paperwork.
"Even though Tanya notified both the central office and the school before she began homeschooling, the school could not flip the switch in the attendance database to turn off her son's 'absences,'" Mason said. "And the central office, always woefully behind, had not gotten around to it yet."
Tj Schmidt, HSLDA's contact attorney for New York, said he spends much of his time sorting out paperwork issues between homeschooling families and school districts. "In a city as diverse as New York City, it's hard to understand why the system in place has not been updated to aid parents who seek an educational alternative that best suits the needs of their children," Schmidt said.
HSLDA's lawsuit is seeking money damages and an order forcing New York City to follow the homeschool regulations outlined in state law. HSLDA is working with local counsel Sean Eccles. HSLDA will track the progress of the case at hslda.org/acevedo.