HSLDA defends Missouri homeschool family!

Judge must answer to Supreme Court

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends

On April 5, 2016, the Supreme Court of Missouri asked Circuit Court Judge R. Craig Carter’s lawyer to respond to HSLDA’s petition, in which we asked the Court to halt a hearing in “truancy court.” The high court gave Judge Carter until 4:30 p.m. on Monday, April 11, to respond.

HSLDA filed the petition on the morning of April 1, 2016 on behalf of a family who had received a summons to “truancy court” because they had withdrawn their 6- and 8-year-old children from the Ava public schools. We learned that so-called “truancy courts” are not really courts at all; it is a term used around the state for voluntary diversion programs designed to keep kids in school without formally prosecuting them.

But this family received a formal-looking “summons” that even I, an experienced homeschool lawyer, originally believed to be legitimate. The “summons” threatened to take legal custody of the children if the parents didn’t show up.

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At 10 p.m. EDT on Friday, April 1, we learned that the Court of Appeals had denied our petition. The next morning, we electronically filed the same petition in the Supreme Court of Missouri, asking it to halt the Monday morning hearing. We also asked the Court to put a stop to the local policy of “summoning” parents who withdraw their children from public school to homeschool them.

We showed the Court a Missouri statute which says that “a declaration of enrollment to provide a home school shall not be cause to investigate violations of section 167.031 (compulsory attendance).” In other words, “the ‘summons’ to truancy court is not only in excess of the court’s jurisdiction; the ‘policy’ that animates it was anticipated by the Legislature and has been expressly forbidden.”

HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff flew to Missouri on Sunday to appear for the family on Monday morning. As Woodruff waited outside the courtroom, Judge Carter came out and said that the Supreme Court had called him that morning and that the hearing was “continued” (postponed indefinitely).

On Tuesday afternoon, a Springfield law firm notified the Supreme Court that it represented Judge Carter. A few hours later, the Supreme Court requested Judge Carter’s lawyer to respond to the petition by next Monday.

We will continue to keep you posted as this case unfolds. Thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

Jim Mason
Vice President for Litigation and Development

 
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