Illinois is a great state in which to homeschool. Because of a 1950s State Supreme Court decision, homeschools are considered private schools. Therefore, public school officials have no authority over homeschooling families, and homeschooling families need initiate no contact with public school officials unless withdrawing a child from a public school.
However, these facts have not stopped Illinois public school officials from harassing homeschooling families. One way in which school officials do this is by convincing city and county authorities to pass day time curfews which have the ostensible purpose of trying to deal with public school truancy but which in effect serve to abridge the rights of homeschool families to be out and about during the day.
A couple of years ago, we defeated such an attempt here in Salem, but more recently homeschoolers in Effingham were not so lucky. In a December 2, 2013, item headlined “Effingham Exempts Homeschoolers from Unreasonable Truancy Ordinance,” the Home School Legal Defense Association reported the following.
With virtually no public input, the Effingham County Board in August enacted an ordinance forbidding students from being absent from their school without the permission of their school or parent.
This meant the police could treat every child moving about in public during school hours as a suspected lawbreaker. Homeschool students who could not prove they had their parents’ permission to be outside could have been placed in police custody.
HSLDA, Illinois Christian Home Educators, and a coalition of local homeschool leaders immediately partnered to launch a campaign to correct the problem. The coalition developed good working relationships with county representatives. HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott A. Woodruff
drafted an amendment stipulating that the ordinance only applies to those private schools (including homeschools) who specifically ask that it apply to their students.
At its November 18 meeting, the board amended the ordinance so it only applies to private schools (and homeschools) who give notice that they want it to apply to their students. It goes without saying that homeschool families should not ask for the ordinance to apply to them!