Thursday January 7, 2010

New York Couple Arrested for Failure to Register Homeschoolers

By Kathleen Gilbert

FONDA, New York, January 7, 2010 ( – A homeschool legal defense group will defend a New York couple in court after the parents were arrested for failing to register their four homeschooled children at the local school district for the past seven years.

Richard and Margie Cressy were arrested by the Montgomery County Sheriff on child endangerement charges for not registering their children, ages 8-14, at the local district. The Cressys submitted and won official approval for their homeschool curriculum for the 2009-2010 school year, but soon after were arrested for not having done so in previous years.

The Home School Legal Defense Association agreed to take the case after the couple requested legal guidance from the group.

“It was completely unnecessary to arrest these parents, and we believe this is outrageous,” HSLDA Senior Counsel Jim Mason said in a statement. “We will be working with our local New York counsel to aggressively defend these homeschool parents against the charges that have been leveled against them.”

Fona-Fultonville Schools Superintendent Dr. Richard Hoffman told a local news station that the Cressys “didn’t fulfill their legal responsibility to file with the school district to be home-schooled.”

Jim Mason, an attorney with the HSLDA, told that the Cressys had not in fact broken the law, and the police’s decision to arrest the couple was “highly unusual.”

“It is not illegal to do what they did,” said Mason. “There’s a regulation that has established a safe harbor that if you do register, then this sort of thing will not likely happen.”

“This is basically a paperwork issue, not a [child] endangerment issue,” said Mason. “I’ve been here more than eight years, I’ve dealt with situations in New York off and on during those eight years. This has never happened in my experience.”

Mason said the children were still at home.

When asked why he thought police took such unusual action, Mason said: “I don’t know. I’m going to find out.”