Homeschool students in Florida’s Jackson County are being hunted down in a countywide initiative called “Operation Round Up,” which was launched by local school board officials to enroll more children in pubic schools.
After watching a television interview featuring the Jackson County School Board’s director of student services – who called on the community to report any suspected truant students to her – one homeschool family sought legal advice out of fear that the public school was aggressively and specifically targeting homeschool students.
Crackdown on homeschoolers
Anxiety over the matter was validated by the director when she implied that many homeschoolers are really not being educated by their parents.
“[Homeschooling families are] not set on a particular schedule, so sometimes the community will see them around town, and they think, ‘Hey, they aren’t being educated?’” the leader of the Jackson County School Board asserted during a televised news interview on the local WHJG station. “Sometimes the community is right.”
Not stopping there, the local television station went on to insinuate that homeschooling is a disservice to children, urging members of the community to support the local schools by launching their own crackdown on homeschoolers.
“[The] school board still encourages people to speak up with their suspicions [about homeschoolers],” the WHJG report announced across Jackson County.
When apprised of the warning and incited crackdown, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) stepped into the matter.
HSLDA Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt promptly informed the director of the Jackson County School Board, as well as the superintendent of Jackson County schools, that their approach through the problematic Operation Round Up was troubling and needed to be addressed immediately to alleviate local homeschoolers’ concerns.
“Your statements suggest that everyone should report children they think aren’t being educated,” Schmidt wrote in his letter to the school officials, according to HSLDA. “In our opinion, this is a threatening practice, and will instill a spirit of suspicion and hostility against homeschoolers in the community.”
In order to put an end to the misinformation and ill-advised crackdown on homeschoolers, Schmidt proceeded to offer information to Jackson County officials and residents – and anyone participating in Operation Round Up – so that they would be able to properly interact with local homeschooling families and maintain respect for their parental rights to educate their own without undue interference.
Don’t let them get away with it …
Attorneys with the nonprofit Christian legal organization are confident that the letter submitted by Schmidt will work to educate the community and improve the relationship between local public school officials, residents and homeschooling families countywide.
According to HSLDA, Operation Round Up and other ill-intended and misguided attempts to boost public school revenues – orchestrated to bring in more homeschoolers and increasing attendance – must be reported to legal experts. It maintains that such vigilance must be exercised in order stop the government’s monopoly on education from winning its war against homeschooling … and anything else that falls outside of its over-regulated system.