About Illinois Homeschool Freedom Watch

Illinois Homeschool Freedom Watch was founded by two homeschooling moms in 2006 to connect all homeschoolers interested in Illinois homeschool laws, homeschooling legal issues, court cases involving homeschoolers and homeschooling legislative issues in Illinois, regardless of any group affiliation. The views expressed on this blog are those of its founders, Susan Ryan and Deborah Niemann-Boehle.

A few thoughts from Deborah …

The thing about legal “opinion” is that it is just that — opinion — and that is true even if you have a law degree. That’s why our courthouses are filled every day with people arguing about what is right and wrong. All of them think they are right, and it’s up to juries and judges to decide which one will prevail. For that reason, I think it is important that we voice diverse opinions in the homeschool community, since none of us have a crystal ball. It is counterproductive if we are divisive and claim some are paranoid because they are more concerned about an issue than others. If we all “agree” on everything and don’t think it is possible for another opinion to exist, we may find ourselves in a very unhappy situation at some point. I can guarantee you there are many people who do not approve of homeschooling, and if they made the rules, we would have far fewer rights than we do.

There is very little written in stone about homeschooling in Illinois. Some see this as a blessing, and some see this as a curse. It can be both, depending upon who is interpreting the law. Some ROEs, state’s attorneys, and superintendents interpret it the way we homeschoolers do, and some interpret it in a way that gives them far more power than homeschoolers think they have.

So for those of you who are wondering “who’s right?” on various topics, the answer is “who knows?” which is why we should voice our different opinions and remain open minded about the possibilities.

Illinois Homeschool Freedom Watch also sponsors a discussion group, which all homeschoolers are welcome to join, regardless of homeschooling educational philosophy or religious affiliation. Members are encouraged to share experiences, wisdom and questions about legally homeschooling in Illinois.

7 Responses

  1. I am leaving a warning rather than a comment….be very careful in ur pursuit of homeschooling….from 2001 til 2008 i homeschooled my son…he never attended public school…i checked the laws (or lack thereof) and kept a watch at HSLDA and even contacted the local superintendent as to what needed to be done and i was told there was no requirements for me to submit to the board……..Never had a problem….until one unfortunate day when DCFS was called in on a false allegation (yes false)….they couldnt find anything to hold against me with my childrens welfare so they started in on me about my homeschool………the caseworker DEMANDED i send stuff to the board and i produce a record of what was taught when and for how long………..and even have ready for her to review his spelling list words for the week……..i then proceeded to contact HSLDA because i knew everything i was doing was right but when HSLDA contacted the caseworker on mybehalf to let her know i was doing everything i needed to she would not listen……she then came the next day to my house and told me bout the lawyer that contacted her and what was said and proceeded to tell me and my husband that for every action we take she will have a reaction………well that scared me so i just went with th flow and did what she said and unfortunately becuase wasnt already a member of HSLDA they could not help me out any further…….she then proceeded to get it court ordered to have my son tested to see where he was academically………….i will admit my son is behind academically……thats why i was glad i decided to homeschool……he is very smart.but just takes extra time for him to learn certain things…….i.e., math and writing skills………… but he had always proceeded at a steady pace and never fell behind from where he was…and because his math and writing skill came back below average…it got court ordered for him to go to a public school…………so of course he gets enrolled in 5th grade when he was doing mostly 6th grade work at home and he struggled but managed to pass and now that he’s in the 6th grade he is failling farther and farther behind and now with it only being october he is already on the fail list and if he doesnt get off it he fails 6th grade and there is nothing that i can do…….its a nightmare getting answers from the teachers….and its frustrating when i have to send him to public school for someone else to teach him but then when he comes home from school i have to reteach him on the topic hes working on cuz they dont (cant or even wont) help him learn in a different way…but my hands are tied…….nothing i can do…………so my major warning for all you out there is dont make the same mistake i made…………find that money and become a member of HSLDA……….even if its hard to afford….they will be able to help you out a lot and maybe even just get all the harrassment to stop…….just dont turn into who i am now………a very concerned parent who keeps thinking about that what if …what if i would of joined when i first found out about HSLDA…………the what if is i would be homeschooling cuz there was no actual legal proof that my homeschooling was the cause of my sons grades…its just who he is…its how he learns….and the government forgets the reason a lot of us choose to homeschool is because our children learn in a different way than what the “average” child learns
    God Bless you all and hope you all have an excellent homeschool career

    • Dear JoAnn,
      Possibly, and without knowing all details, this could be turned right side up if you did as Deborah suggested, and contacted an IL pro-homeschool attorney to help with this. In Illinois, educational neglect is under the Regional Office of Education/school system authority, and DCFS is separate from that process.

      For HSLDA to participate in a process with a phone call and then leave you hanging is so unfortunate. It should have been all or nothing.
      I have found that many of these authorities will immediately back down if over-compliance demands are called on by others for what they are. Bullying. But I see that you have a court order involved in this, so it appears to be more complicated.
      You need help and support. You have it, if you want it. I assume that you’re in IL, since you mentioned DCFS.
      Best wishes to you and your family.

  2. JoAnn,

    What you describe is terrible, and in fact, illegal. You don’t need to be a member of HSLDA to be able to homeschool legally. That’s why Susan and I started this group. We are available to answer questions and help with matters that don’t require a lawyer, but if you need a lawyer, we can put you in touch with one that will work with you pro bono if you can’t afford to pay them.

    If you send us your phone number, either Susan or I will call you to get more information and see what we can do to help you. It sounds like you would rather be homeschooling.

  3. I am homeschooling my daughter, we are useing a online program. She will have completed her required work for the online program June of 2010 and will receive her diploma. Will she need to take any state test in ill. in order for her diploma to be legit?

    • In Illinois, a homeschool is legally the same as any other private school. Just as a diploma from a Catholic school or a Montessori school would be “legitimate,” so is your homeschool diploma.

  4. I see the Will County ROE is attempting to require more than is necessary out of homeschoolers. I was doing research for somebody else, and found it:

    http://www.will.k12.il.us/HomeSchooling.html

    Her web page basically infers that one is obligated to create an entire academic calendar FOR THE YEAR and share it with the ROE.

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