After an employer in Alabama claimed it could not verify that an 18-year-old homeschool graduate had completed high school, it resorted to scheduling him around a weekday curfew – as if he was an “adult minor” still enrolled in high school.
To put an end to the unwarranted discriminatory treatment, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) was contacted, and it was discovered that the retail employer had no intention of rectifying the situation.
“Because of this perplexing classification, Publix – the Florida-based supermarket chain where the graduate worked – scheduled him to work only between 2:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. on school days” HSLDA informed. “Additionally, Publix forced the graduate to comply with other burdensome procedures, which were unnecessary since he was no longer attending high school.”
Making things difficult
Making little to no attempt to make sure the homeschool grad was processed accurately, the grocer proceeded to insist that he complete and pass a test that should have only been required of publicly schooled students who did not graduate from high school.
“The company told the graduate that, in order to be treated as an adult, he must prove that he had completed high school,” HSLDA attorney Dan Beasley reported. “When he explained that he was a homeschool graduate, Publix requested that he prove it by submitting the results of the Alabama High School Graduation Exam (AHSGE) – a test for public school students that acts as a prerequisite to receiving a public high school diploma.”
Needless to say, because the AHSGE exam is not required in order for homeschool students to graduate, the former homeschooler never took it.
Going above and beyond submitting proof of passing the AHSGE, the homeschool grad provided an official record of his grades, as well as records of his exceptionally high score on an official test he took to get into college.
“He instead offered his homeschool high school transcript and a copy of his ACT score, which placed him in the top 5 percent of students who took the college entrance exam nationwide,” Beasley shared.
However, it took the assistance of the nonprofit Christian legal organization to finally convince the grocery store chain that their employee had provided more than enough documentation to be considered as a regular adult worker.
“I wrote a letter to the Publix corporate office detailing the family’s compliance with Alabama homeschool law, and asserted that their compliance – coupled with their son’s transcript and ACT score – were sufficient to confirm that he was a legitimate high school graduate,” the legal expert recounted.
And the unequal, biased treatment the homeschool grad was subjected to because he was educated from home was classified as being unlawful by nature.
“I also pointed out that Alabama law prohibits institutions of higher education from discriminating against an otherwise qualified student based on the consideration that the student was homeschooled,” Bradley stated. “While not specifically binding on employers, this law means that the state believes homeschool graduates should not face discrimination based solely on their homeschooled status.”
HSLDA’s state-backed argument ultimately stuck with Publix.
“After consulting with their legal counsel, Publix is now treating the young man as a high school graduate – he is no longer an ‘adult minor,’” Beasley declared, noting that the graduate’s mother was doubtful that Publix would have changed its course if HSLDA had not stepped in.
The homeschool grad’s mother encouraged other homeschoolers in her state to learn more about the numerous freedoms and protections homeschoolers have from unjust and unchecked state practices.
“I did not realize how much people do not understand the liberties we have in Alabama,” she told HSLDA.
More Alabama homeschool hurdles tackled
Meanwhile, just last year, homeschoolers in the Yellowhammer state overcame another state-imposed hurdle – this time in sports, rather than academics.
As of April 2016, homeschool athletes began playing Alabama high school sports – just like conventionally schooled students in the state.
“The AHSAA [Alabama High School Athletic Association] Legislative Council approved a new measure … allowing home-school, charter school and virtual school students to play high school sports at the public school for which they are zoned,” HighSchoolSports.AL.com reported.
The following new rules are now in place throughout the state:
- Non-traditional students will be eligible to enroll at the public school that serves the district where their parents reside. All current AHSAA eligibility and transfer rules will apply to traditional and non-traditional students.
- The homeschool and other students will count for classification purposes.
- Non-traditional students can play only at public schools – not private schools
- Homeschool and non-traditional students cannot have more practice time than traditional students.
Despite this piece of legislation, equal access is not a reality yet for all homeschoolers in Alabama, but the proposed Tim Tebow Bill in the state – named after Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow – is geared to make equal access universal throughout the state.
“Thirty-one (31) other states support some form of equal access for homeschoolers,” the TimTebowBill.com website states. “It is time for Alabama to step up and support our hard-working homeschool educators, students and student-athletes, as well.”
This bill is universal in scope and is designed to make sure homeschoolers – regardless of their interests – enjoy all of the advantages that publicly schooled students enjoy.
“The passage of this law will not only benefit homeschool athletes and musicians, but it will also benefit the entire system of education in Alabama,” the site continues. “The ultimate goal of any educational system should be to provide the services needed for all students to have a well-rounded education. Extracurricular activities are one of those services – beyond academics – that help today’s children learn the skills they will need to be tomorrow’s leaders.”