Bureau-Henry-Stark Counties: Homeschool Problems Resolved?

For those who don’t know about Dr. Bruce Dennison, he has been the Bureau-Henry-Stark County Regional Office of Education Superintendent for a long time. In 2002, he sent officers out to homeschool families’ homes in the area to inspect for “burden of proof” of proper homeschooling.

No lessons learned for ROE Superintendent Dennison in 2002.  Here’s what he had to say in 2004. I assume Dennison’s attitude hasn’t changed in 2008?  Ht to Home Education Mag:

Should home schooling be monitored from outside the home?

“I want every child to receive as full an education as they possibly can,” explains Bruce Dennison, Regional Superintendent of public schools for Bureau, Henry, and Stark counties.

“Every child in Illinois needs to be in school if they’re between the ages of seven and 16.”
That school can be at home, and Dennison’s not opposed to letters, phone calls even home visits to make sure schooling is taking place.

“Regional superintendents do have the authority and the responsibility to see that children are going to school.”

Thank goodness for homeschool advocate Carol Severson.  In this same article she says this:

Severson says that’s not true when it comes to home schoolers. She calls Dennison’s actions harassment, citing an Illinois law which considers home schools to be private schools.

“I don’t think they need to be monitored. I don’t think they need to be tested. I don’t think that they need to report or show curriculum,” replies Severson. “I think that they need to be left alone, and it will all come out in the end when they apply to college.”

The Scoma ruling was cited by Dennison (and the ISBE and other ROEs) as their justification for this harassment. DuPage County ROE has posted the ISBE legal dept’s memorandum “[Homeschooling and Requirements of the School Code] in their questionable homeschool information.

The reason why Dennison is brought up again is because he’s still up to his old tricks. HSLDA posted a bulletin dated October 7 of this year

New Homeschool Family Told to Meet with State Attorney or Else
One of HSLDA’s member families contacted us regarding a letter they received. The letter was an intimidating demand that the family meet with the Stark County State Attorney that following Monday, September 29, to discuss their daughter’s absence from public school—or face truancy charges.

The family had recently legally withdrawn their daughter from public school in order to homeschool her. Instead of accepting the fact she was being homeschooled, however, school officials contacted the truant officer.

HSLDA Senior Counsel Chris Klicka sent the superintendent a letter explaining that the family was within their rights to homeschool without notifying the school district (besides the courtesy withdrawal letter). Klicka provided assurances that the family was following Illinois homeschool law and cancelled the meeting with the state’s attorney. The letter stated that the family was operating their homeschool program in complete accordance with the law.

The family has not heard from the school or state attorney since. This a regional school district that has used similar tactics against homeschoolers on and off over the last 10 years—but HSLDA has been able to resolve them all.

Homeschoolers are laying low and apparently problems are still occurring since 2002.  This is not just from HSLDA news, but on Illinois homeschool lists over the years.

What problems are resolved for the homeschool community if, as HSLDA reports “similar tactics against homeschoolers [occur] on and off over the last 10 years“?  Their news release says that ” HSLDA has been able to resolve them all”, but the message seems compromised if those 3 counties are still dealing with problems from Dennison.  By the way, in 2003, HSLDA spokesperson, Scott Somerville had this percentage estimate of HSLDA members in Illinois.

Susan, we have 2,522 active member families in IL. If there are 2,000,000 American homeschoolers, I would estimate IL has 90,000 (based on IL’s share of the US population). If we say there are about 2 kids per average homeschool family, we would compute around 45,000 homeschool families in IL. This means HSLDA’s membership in IL may be more like 5% of the total (5.6%, to be exact), not 15%.

That is based on the assumption that there are 2M homeschoolers. If there are only 850,000 homeschoolers (the Census Bureau’s current estimate), HSLDA’s segment of the IL homeschool population would be much larger: I calculate 12.9%, using the methods above.

HSLDA’s share of the homeschool population in other states can be higher or lower. Kansas, for example, is a state where there have been a lot of random homeschool prosecutions, and HSLDA’s membership there is pretty high. If I make the same assumptions in Kansas as I did for Illinois, I would compute a percentage somewhere between 17% (if there are 2M homeschoolers) and 40% (if there are only 850,000).

Scott W. Somerville, Esq. scott@hslda.org

Isn’t about time the Illinois homeschool community put a stop to Dennison and his bully boy ways?

More here:  Is The Problem really resolved?

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One Response

  1. […] (Unless we’re transferring from the public school to homeschool.)   Mr. Kunzman asked HSLDA founder Michael Smith, about homeschooling’s future potential: “So would the ultimate […]

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