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Homeschooling is legal in all states; attorneys can help.

COUNTRYSIDE: I would like to respond to Cheryl Obland. I wish her letter would have been longer, because I'm struggling to understand the details. Home schooling is legal in all 50 states and it does not matter if your child has special needs or not. There are however, different rules for every state--some require testing, others notebooks, etc. If you are being harassed by the "authorities" it would seem that roaches don't just live under your trailer. You need to contact the Home School Legal Defense Association at 1-540-338-5600 or www.HSLDA. org. They are a group of homeschooling attorneys that represent you if you end up in court. They are a Christian organization, but will help you even if you are not. They will mail you a copy of the laws in your state, and an application. If you decide to join it will cost you $100 per year. (They will break it down into monthly payments for you.) After you have joined HSLDA, their service is free. They also give you legal advice and support 24 hours a day, and they have Special Needs Coordinators who can counsel you. They also keep you up to date on what is going on in the legal world of homeschooling. What the "officials" are doing to you is not okay and not legal. It will not stop them however, until you know your rights and stand up for them. (Make sure you follow your state laws to the letter.)

I would also recommend buying the book No Fear, by Detective Robert Surgenor. You should be able to get it at any book store, but it can be ordered for $16 plus shipping from It is an excellent book on standing up for your rights. It also contains the laws on child abuse for all 50 states--you will probably find that is where your "officials" will try to go next. Remember to be polite but that you do not have to let them in your house or on your property without a warrant.

I would also like to add to Barb Siegal's letter. Giving leaves to the goats in the winter is a great idea, and bush bean plants can also be gathered in bunches, secured with a rubber band, and hung upside down to dry. Don't forget corn stalks, sunflower heads, extra pumpkins and squash cut in half, windfall apples from your orchard, etc. I always plant extra rows of carrots, beets and mangles to throw in the cellar under sand for winter treats.

I love the paragraph in which she writes, "The animals are so happy. All is right with the world." I too feel that way. My chores would only take me 20 minutes to do if I wasn't so addicted to watching them eat. Our barnyard is an open area that everything from the day-old chick to the thousand pound horse share, and it makes me so content to stand and watch and listen.

I wonder if that is what the 15-year-old vegetarian is missing? While I agree "animal factories" are cruel and unnecessary, homesteaders by their very nature do not duplicate that type of atmosphere. Our daily interaction with our animals causes us to love them (yes, even the aggravating ones). Her main complaints are not about the animal's death, but about their quality of life. Simply becoming a vegetarian will not solve the problem. I do, however, encourage her as she tries to improve her corner of the world.--Mrs. Shane H., Idaho

COUNTRYSIDE: I cannot help with the roach problem, but I do have important information regarding homeschooling a special needs child! Whoever told you this is "illegal" is incorrect! Sometimes local school districts, etc., are not entirely knowledgable about the laws regarding home schooling, and will tell you whatever comes off the top of their heads. Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, and it does not matter if it is a special needs child or not.

We have home schooled for 12 years, and our two oldest boys are now in college--by the way, they had no problems with admissions. They attend Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota. Both are Dean's List students. Our youngest will be 16 next week, and in 10th grade. At this point we're struggling through advanced algebra, among other things!

When we first started homeschooling, there were some eyebrows raised by family and friends, but now those who were detractors are singing the praises of homeschooling. No, my boys are not special needs kids, but because of homeschooling, I know a lot of other homeschoolers, and many of them are successfully homeschooling special needs children. For example, in our 4H club (I'm a 4-H leader) we have one little boy, 11 years old, with PDD Pervasive Developmental Disorder, from the autism spectrum). He lives with his grandparents, who pulled him out of public school because of the bullying that goes on toward children who are different. Well, he sure is thriving and blooming under homeschooling! (They still make use of the public school for speech therapy, simply because they have a right to, and the young man needs it.) But this has been my observation-homeschooling is probably the best possible mileau for special needs kids, and they not only thrive, they bloom.

I would strongly suggest you contact Home School Legal Defense Association, If you have not heard of them, they exist specifically to act as "legal department" of the many thousands of home schools in the country. For $100 a year you have all the legal help and advice you need. You do not need to pay the $100 all at once, we simply pay $9 a month via electronic withdrawal, which then also covers the service charges because of paying monthly instead of an upfront fee. We joined when we began home schooling in 1993. We have never really had to make use of the legal protection, but they have been very valuable in giving advice and specifics as well as alerting us about legislative matters affecting homeschooling in our state. They do go to bat for many folks who run into trouble, such as with public school authorities. A monthly magazine as well as weekly e-updates keep you posted on the homeschool front, and they can also give you resources for finding curriculum, etc. They will know every detail of the law for your state. You can find out more about them by going to
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Title Annotation:Country conversation & feedback
Author:H., Shane
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Jan 1, 2005
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