Benefits to Joining Homeschool Legal Defense Association
Credit: Emily Kathleen Ross
Homeschooling is legal in all fifty U.S. states. More and more people are teaching their children at home. Fewer people look at you funny now when you tell that you homeschool your children. So why would anyone need to belong to Home School Legal Defense Association? Is it a worthwhile item to add to your homeschool budget?
Homeschool Legal Defense was founded in 1983 by lawyers Michael Farris and Michael Smith, when few American families were home educating. Those parents who did choose to homeschool their children often met opposition and obstacles from local educational establishments and even law enforcement. Since its founding, HSLDA has grown into a non-for-profit organization employing nine full-time lawyers and over 60 other employees.
How Can HSLDA Help My Family?
Home School Legal Defense Association publishes a bi-monthly magazine called the Homeschool Court Report. Each publication details contacts that homeschooling families from all over the country have had from social workers and law enforcement. Reviews of these articles and details reveal a startling common thread – social workers and law enforcement are not always aware of a homeschooling family’s legal rights. If you are not aware of your own rights, others may not correctly grant them to you.Although unusual, families do have social workers come to their door because a neighbor or someone else raised an issue related to homeschooling or the safety of the children in the house. These social workers often ask to enter the house and interview the children, even though they have no legal right to do so. In such a situation, the parents can call HSLDA and receive accurate legal advice on how to respond. Their legal team is also available to assist in situations where families are contacted by the local public school establishment and asked for additional information or told that they are not complying with local homeschooling laws. Suprisingly, in many instances the school officials are asking the families to do provide information or fill out forms that are not legally required of them. HSLDA will write letters or make phone calls to the appropriate people until the case is closed.If calls and letters cannot adequately settle a matter for a family, Home School Legal Defense Association can escalate a case and represent a family in court. In a famous California juvenile court case in which appellate judges issued a surprise ruling against the legality of non-certified parents educating their own children, HSLDA rushed in and convinced the judges to reconsider their position. The judges ultimately vacated their own opinion and re-issued an opinion validating parents’ rights to home educate their own children legally in California.
Can I Afford Membership?
Current Home School Legal Defense Association membership rates for a full year are less than one hour of an attorney’s time might cost you. And that attorney probably wouldn’t be as intimately familiar with homeschooling legal rights as the lawyers on staff. Homeschooling support groups are able to sign up as preferred providers and bring the cost down for each member family. There is also an option to purchase a lifetime membership.Once you are a member of HSLDA, there are no additional costs for legal assistance. No costs is you need a letter written and no costs if they end up representing you in court. In addition to case types mentioned above, in recent years HSLDA has been active in cases as diverse as truancy charges for homeschoolers, parental rights to determine care for a sick child, and rights to military admission for homeschool graduates.
Do I Have to Be a Christian to Join?
Home School Legal Defense Association membership is available to homeschooling families of all religious faiths. The leadership of HSLDA is all Christian and its membership materials, such as the Homeschool Court Report contain overtly Christian material. HSLDA provides services to all member families, regardless of religious affiliation.
Are There Any Exclusions?
Home School Legal Defense Association will not provide coverage for children in a family who are enrolled in a government sponsored homeschooling arrangement. This includes government funded charter schools and homeschooling options at local public school. Their staff has dedicated so much time to guaranteeing families’ rights to educate their children without government oversight that they have elected to keep their focus on families that are not participating in taxpayer-funded public schools.
Are There Any Other Benefits to Membership?
Home School Legal Defense Association also offers some great benefits to member families on its website, including an online curriculum market and discounts on purchases of items such as home insurance and travel deals. With a large membership base, they are able to take advantage of group pricing for these items. The website also has a great state-by-state analysis of the legal requirements for homeschooling, compulsory school attendance age and other similar important local laws.On the website, members can print out ID cards for both the parents as educators and the children as students. These can be used to obtain student and educator discounts both locally and for things like the purchase of Adobe products like Adobe Photoshop with Adobe’s generous educational discount.Another benefit to membership is HSLDA’s ongoing advocacy in Washington D.C. and at the state level to protect the rights of homeschooling families. They are also active in advocacy to protect the rights of parents to make education and other decisions for their own children. They are even active in cases in Europe, where authorities have removed children from their homes simply because of the family’s decision and placed the children under governmental authority or in foster care.
How Do I Join?
Prospective members can apply for membership on Homeschool Legal Defense Association’s website, which is www.hslda.org. If you belong to a support group, co-op or other group that has group status with HSLDA, contact leadership in your group first to obtain the group number. This will allow you to register for membership at the discounted group rate.As with any kind of insurance, you always hope that you won’t need it. However, there is a reason that people choose to insure their cars, their houses and their medical care. One unusual situation and lack of coverage can be amazingly costly. Homeschooling families should consider insuring their right to continue to homeschool legally and freely by being members of Home School Legal Defense Association.