Home School Legal Defense Association
"HSLDA: Advocates for homeschooling"
|Formation||March 28, 1983|
|Founder||Michael Farris and J. Michael Smith|
|Legal status||501(c)(4) nonprofit|
|J. Michael Smith|
|Publication||Home School Court Report (quarterly)
Home School Heartbeat (daily, audio)
The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is a United States-based "nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms." HSLDA describes itself on its website as a "Christian organization".
HSLDA was founded by Michael Farris in 1983 for the purpose of defending homeschooling families. At that time, homeschooling was not specifically legal in most of the states of the U.S. under compulsory education laws. Those who practiced homeschooling were often harassed or prosecuted. Through a combination of legal action and legislative lobbying, HSLDA played a large part in the legalization of homeschooling throughout the U.S.
The high point of HSLDA's existence was its central role in the 1994 defeat of language in bill H.R. 6. This bill would have required all teachers in the U.S., potentially including home educators, to have teacher certification. HSLDA used their grassroots lobbying system in each of the 50 states which coordinated members to contact their legislators about pending legislation. Their members overloaded the phone switchboards at Capitol Hill, and through the efforts of their members and other organizations, the bill was amended to remove the problematic language.
HSLDA's speech and debate league broke off to form the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association in 2001. That same year, Patrick Henry College was founded by Michael Farris, who was the college's president until 2006. Today, HSLDA's 80,000+ members receive free legal assistance if they are contacted by public school officials, or need legal help in relation to their rights to homeschool.
Other HSLDA Programs
In 2003, HSLDA, feeling a need to educate youth in civics and politics, founded Generation Joshua. Generation Joshua (often abbreviated as "Gen J" by its members,) is an American Conservative Christian youth organization that aims to encourage the involvement of 11-19 year-olds in politics. Its members, which number 6,000 as of 2006, participate in civics education, over 60 clubs, student action teams, voter registration drives, and "Benjamin Rush" Awards, which offer members a chance to earn a trip to Washington, D.C., amongst other things.
- The HSLDA publishes a bimonthly magazine which is mailed to all of its members.
- The HSLDA published Constitutional Law for Enlightened Citizens by Michael P. Farris.
- The HSLDA also publishes statements on its website regarding issues that are unrelated to homeschooling, notably the organization's support of a Federal Marriage Amendment, which would limit marriage in the United States to unions of one man and one woman.
Home School Foundation
The Home School Foundation provides "Assistance to needy home schooling families".
The National Christian Forensics and Communications Association, or NCFCA, is a speech and debate league for homeschooled students in the United States, established in 2001 after outgrowing HSLDA, which had been running the league since it was originally established in 1995. NCFCA is now organized under its own board of directors with regional and state leadership coordinating tournaments and other activities.
Patrick Henry College
Patrick Henry College, or PHC, is a private, non-denominational Protestant college, founded by HSLDA, that focuses on teaching classical liberal arts and government, located in Purcellville, Virginia. It is the first college in America founded specifically for Christian home-schooled students. The school was incorporated in 1998 by Michael Farris. It officially opened September 20, 2000 with 92 students, and has since grown to approximately 325 students.
Significant court cases
Calabretta v. Floyd
- HSLDA represented a family in their suit against a Yolo County police officer and social worker who conducted a warrantless search, including strip search of minor children, during a child abuse investigation. The social worker argued that she was not bound by the Fourth Amendment restrictions against unreasonable search and seizure. Furthermore, both the social worker and police officer claimed immunity from suits regardless of whether or not they violated a family's constitutional rights. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on August 26, 1999 that "a social worker and a police officer are not entitled to qualified immunity for investigating a report of a child crying by making a nonconsensual entry into a home without a search warrant or special exigency and coercing a parent to aid them in strip-searching her child." This ruling clarified that social workers are government officials and are bound by the Fourth Amendment and may be sued for violations of that amendment and has been cited repeatedly in subsequent court rulings regarding searches in child abuse investigations.
Camdenton R-III School District v. Mr. and Mrs. F
- HSLDA represented a family that sought to have their son protected from a government mandated "special needs evaluation". The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a school district may not force a child to undergo a special needs evaluation against the desires of the child's parents. The school district rested its arguments on the federal Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). However, the court ruled that "Where a home-schooled child's parents refuse consent [for an evaluation], privately educate the child, and expressly waive all benefits under the IDEA, an evaluation would have no purpose. . . . [A] district may not force an evaluation under the circumstances in this case."
Loudermilk vs. Arpaio, et al.
- Arizona District Court states that entry by law enforcement and child protective services personnel into a private residence is not consensual when it is given after law enforcement threatens the family with the arrest of the parents and seizure of their children.
F vs. Braxton Family
- Maine Supreme Court ruled that parents' rights to their children override grandparents' rights to their grandchildren. HSLDA represented a family against the grandparents. The grandparents disagreed with the parents' child-rearing decisions and sued the parents to have unrestricted, court-mandated access to the children. The Maine Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling against the grandparents.
The People v. DeJonge
- Michigan Supreme Court struck down the state's teacher certificate requirement as an unconstitutional abridgment of the constitution's free exercise of religion clause. The DeJonge's were convicted of teaching their children without a government issued teacher's certificate. HSLDA represented the family in its appeals which established that parents do not need a teacher's certificate to teach their children.
In the Matter of Stumbo
- The North Carolina Supreme Court unanimously affirmed that social services may not begin an investigation based solely on an anonymous tip. Furthermore, it reaffirmed that social service workers are bound, as government employees, to the Fourth Amendment assurances against unreasonable search and seizure.
In Re Gauthier Children: Petition to Compel Cooperation with Child Abuse Investigation
- HSLDA represented a family which faced a court-ordered home visit by a social service worker after the family was accused of medical neglect. The juvenile court approved the court-order without probable cause. The Superior Court of Pennsylvania found that the court-order was illegal in that it "was unsupported by probable cause and therefore violated their state and federal constitutional rights against unreasonable searches and seizures."
HSLDA has been criticized, from both inside and outside the larger homeschooling movement, for its ties to the Christian Right and its advocacy for various conservative political and religious causes, some of which are unrelated to homeschooling. For example, HSLDA opposes same-sex marriage, claiming that it represents "an attack on parental rights." They have also been accused of defending abusive parents by hindering legal investigations and changes in the law, while also resisting any attempts to ensure that homeschooled kids are actually being educated.
- Generation Joshua
- Patrick Henry College
- National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (NCFCA)
- "About HSLDA"
- "About HSLDA"
- "Homeschooling Is Legal: A Brief History of Home School Legal Defense Association".
- Home School Legal Defense Organization: "What Purpose is Served by HSLDA's 'Alerts?'"
- "Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About HSLDA"
- Calabretta v. Floyd
- Camdenton R-III School District v. Mr. and Mrs. F
- Loudermilk vs. Arapaio, et al.
- F v. Braxton Family
- The People v DeJonge
- In the Matter of S.
- Pennsylvania: Social Worker Search Violated Constitution
- In Re Gauthier Children: Petition to Compel Cooperation with Child Abuse Investigation
- Cordes, Helen. "Battling for the heart and soul of homeschoolers." Salon.com. October 2, 2000.
- Grove, Steve. "Reading, writing, & right-wing politics." Boston Globe. August 15, 2004.
- HSLDA. "Why HSLDA is Fighting Against Same-Sex Marriage" HSLDA.org.
- "HSLDA and Child Abuse: An Introduction"
- HSLDA's Official Web Site
- Patrick Henry College Home Page
- Generation Joshua's National Website
- Official NCFCA Website