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NC Dept. of Non-Public Education Requests Voluntary Meeting to Review Homeschool Records
by Chrisynda & Thomas Samuel - Thursday, 5 March 2009, 5:37 PM
 

Some NC homeschoolers in the Richmond County area are receiving letters from the Dept. of Non-Public Education (DNPE) requesting a voluntary meeting for a full record review and interviews with their children. The letter states this meeting is to avoid a home visit. The meeting date for Richmond county homeschoolers who have received this letter is March 23-24, 2009 at the local library in Rockingham, NC. (see sample of letter)

According to Sections 115C-549 and 115C-557 of the General Statutes of North Carolina, the DNPE does NOT have the right to request access to the information asked for in this letter. They especially do NOT have the right to see your children or meet or interview your children. You are under no obligation to answer any of their questions beyond what information you submitted to the state when you registered to homeschool. The ONLY thing the DNPE has a right to see as stated in the above sections are the standardized test results taken within the previous year. Only the test results record must be made available for annual inspection. This CAN result in a DNPE official making a visit to your home. BUT, that official MAY NOT ENTER your home to inspect those test results. Any such inspections of test results should be done on the front porch, but not inside your home according to Home School Legal Defense Association.

HSLDA is nonprofit group of lawyers and other legal & political professionals committed to protecting homeschooling. HSLDA Members facing legal issues are given FREE legal representation by seasoned and skilled lawyers who are committed to your case until it is resolved. Annual membership fees go to pay legal expenses for homeschool families currently facing litigation. HSLDA is also considered by some as the premiere homeschooling watch-dog group in the nation. They act upon legislation that may affect homeschooling. If you homeschool in any one of the 50 United States, you have HSLDA to thank for protecting and defending your right to homeschool whether you are a member or not. [Frequently Asked Questions about HSLDA. Please read to the end.]

NC homeschoolers who have received the letter should call HSLDA and email or fax a copy of the letter to them immediately. HSLDA will quickly look over the letter to assess its nature. If the letter is deemed a regional or county "sweep" or if it is an individual investigation of a homeschooler by the state, then HSLDA will have to limit its services to HSLDA members only. This isn't an insensitive or greedy position. It is a legal one. Just as a doctor cannot give advice to those who are not his patients, neither can lawyers give legal advice to those who are not clients.

For those homeschoolers who are HSLDA members, NC lawyers will go to work immediately to find the least intrusive resolution possible at not expense to you.

For those homeschoolers who are NOT members of HSLDA, you should still contact HSLDA and email or fax a copy of the letter to them so they can figure out the nature of the letter. Beyond that your options are very limited.

Here is a HSLDA document addressing this very issue and what they recommend you do. Although this article was written in 2007, it is still relevant.

DNPE Seeks Meeting With Homeschool Families

My strongest advice to those families who have received this letter from the DNPE is to IMMEDIATELY CONTACT HSLDA. If you are NOT a member - BECOME a member of HSLDA. It usually takes two weeks to process an application, but in the case of emergencies, HSLDA will "expedite" your application. HOWEVER, YOU MUST CALL TO SPEED UP THE PROCESS - AND DO NOT LEAVE A MESSAGE. You MUST speak with a person. Some homeschoolers look at the HSLDA membership fee as too much to pay each year, so they do not join. They have it in their minds that IF they ever have a legal need, then they will join.

My Friends, these letters CONSTITUTE A LEGAL NEED.

It has been erroneously reported that you can call HSLDA and join immediately over the phone should a government official, social worker, police officer, etc. show up at your door. This is NOT True. I have verified this information with a HSLDA attorney. HSLDA actually has a policy that prohibits them from taking members who are already in a legal crisis such as described. Do NOT wait until you need a homeschooling attorney to retain one.

I am not a sales person for HSLDA. I do not receive any compensation from them. I have no stake in their success or failure. I DO have a stake in the preservation of OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS to homeschool - as do YOU.

The more individuals the government can convince to "voluntarily" show their homeschool records to them, the easier it will be to force legislation through the state governing body to change the homeschooling laws requiring heavier regulation and more government oversight of homeschooling. Lawmakers will then be able to "cite" the number of homeschooling families that are ALREADY "voluntarily" showing the documentation as proof that "homeschoolers actually WANT" this government intrusion, thus supporting their call to adopt new regulations. PLEASE, DO NOT GIVE THE GOVERNMENT THIS AMMUNITION AGAINST HOMESCHOOLING.

Given the current popularity of homeschooling, the ultimate goal of government is to create "public schools at home". They want to dictate the curriculum you teach and the way you teach your children. In some places this has already happened with the advent of "virtual public schools."

**NOTE: If a school offers you FREE CURRICULUM to homeschool, especially online, - it is a PUBLIC satellite or virtual school. It is NOT a free private school or free homeschool curriculum. If you accept such curriculum, you have just enrolled your child in a PUBLIC SCHOOL, even if it is located in another state - and will be obligated to follow all public school rules and curriculum both in the state you reside AND the state the curriculum is from. As homeschoolers, curriculum is one of the main reasons we homeschool.

With regard to this letter from DNPE, I urge you to join and follow the advice of HSLDA. This is STILL the best advice I can think of. Every homeschooler should have a homeschool lawyer on retainer just in case of an emergency. Your annual membership fees act as your retainer with HSLDA. When you HAVE an emergency is not the time to begin looking for help; not when you homeschool. As homeschoolers, we must be prepared for anything.

You, the homeschooler, will have to decide whether to attend this meeting or not. If you choose to attend, you must call the number provided in the letter to set up an appointment. However, you do not have to take your children to the meeting, nor any other documentation except what is required by law. The only thing required by NC Law is a copy of your children's latest standardized test results. From the homeschoolers I have spoken with, NC homeschoolers usually send copies of that school year's standardized test results, attendance record and immunization record to DNPE at the end of every school year anyway, so there is no need for this meeting.

It would be better if those who have received the letter were HSLDA members because HSLDA could then take care of this situation.There is still time to become HSLDA members before the meeting. Those joining now should call HSLDA to expedite the registration process. Remember to speak with a person from HSLDA; do NOT leave a message when you call to speed up the registration process. Be sure to explain to the HSLDA representative why you need your membership expedited. Be sure to email or fax a copy of the letter you received to HSLDA so they can examine the letter.

For those who are not HSLDA members and who are not going to join HSLDA, it is very important to respond to this letter, preferably by writing a letter back stating you are still homeschooling, will not be attending the meeting, that you have already submitted your annual information required by law to DNPE and that they should check their records for it as you are in compliance with NC homeschooling law. If you do not respond to the letter, DNPE will assume you are no longer homeschooling and will potentially revoke your homeschool status.

You may still receive a home visit at some point in the year, despite your best efforts. BUT at least you will not be submitting to an unauthorized meeting or giving the state information they have no legal right to have.

If you choose to attend this meeting or are ever involved with any government official, do not give the names of fellow homeschoolers or make mention of other homeschoolers ambiguously, nor make mention of clubs or activities you or other homeschoolers are involved in. This information is easily tracked down by government officials and could potentially result in further investigations. Our privacy as homeschoolers is sacred.


For those who would like to decline the meeting requested by the NC-DNPE to review your homeschooling records, here is a sample letter for your convenience. Make the necessary changes to reflect your information, situation and date. I encourage you to write it in your own words.

March 04, 2009

Dept. of Non-Public Education
Attn: Mr. Rod Helder
1309 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1309

Ref: Voluntary Meeting to Review Homeschool Records


Dear Mr. Helder,

I have received your letter requesting a meeting in Rockingham, NC on March 23-24, 2009 to review my homeschool records. However, I choose to exercise my option not to attend. Sections 115C-549 and 115C-557 of the General Statutes of North Carolina do not authorize the Dept. of Non-Public Education to conduct such meetings nor does it require me as a homeschooling parent to participate in such meetings.

I am still homeschooling and if you will check your records, you will find I have already sent to DNPE a copy of my child(ren)'s latest standardized test results required by Sections 115C-549 and 115C-557 of the General Statutes of North Carolina. Additionally, I have sent in my child(ren)'s attendance record(s) and immunization record(s) as requested by Sections 115C-549 and 115C-557 of the General Statutes of North Carolina.

Based on the records I have already provided, you should have the necessary documentation to substantiate my compliance with NC homeschool regulation


Sincerely,


Your Name

Address