October 7, 2013
Carolyn & Simon Fox
Dear Ms. Assistant Superintendent,
This is a second notification that we are homeschooling our son Malcolm. In the spring, we had submitted an application from your office (the Assistant Superintendent's office) which declared our intention to homeschool. On September 3, 2013, you acknowledged that you had received this application but had declared to us that such paperwork is no longer on a proper form. The fact that homeschoolers are not legally required to complete such a form or provide such detailed information regarding how we homeschooled was perhaps overlooked or a misinterpretation of the law regarding the legal obligations of homeschoolers.
We have an attached education plan for my son Malcolm Fox (d.o.b.). This education plan is submitted in accordance with Charles decision that governs what homeschoolers are legally required to provide to school districts. According to the Guidelines for Home Education in Massachusetts: Information for Superintendents (http://www.mhla.org/supt/guidelines.htm), school officials may consider that homeschoolers are not required to use printed textbooks or replicate the course offerings of a public school based on the Brunelle and Charles decisions.
As Salem residents, we are particularly surprised and offended by your actions, the revised application, and the list of Home Education Support Organization for homeschoolers. Considering Salem's very long, painful history (especially if we consider the seventeenth century) and its involvement in the history of education and technology, we are aghast at the treatment of homeschoolers. When we consider the contribution of Elizabeth Palmer Peabody to this city and her pivotal role in education, we are quite disappointed.
We had thought that Salem was the city of peace and had learnt from its history of intolerance. However, we wonder. It seems that Roger Williams's principles of freedom of conscience are being trampled on and compromised. It also seems that the Salem Public Schools is uneasy in its relationship with homeschoolers and to ideological diversity over educational philosophies.
Homeschooling families are networking and sharing information on how school districts are accommodating or difficult they are with homeschooling. Families are making decisions to move to various towns or cities based on level of accommodation or difficulty to homeschoolers. There are a number of websites, social networking groups, and other forums online and local groups who disseminate such information.
While we understand and respect the responsibility of school officials to expedite approval of home education plans, we also understand that we have already fulfilled our responsibility and obligation to notify our intent to homeschool in the spring last year. It is our understanding that the courts have emphasized consistently that parents and school authorities should proceed cooperatively to “expedite approval.” (Charles, Searles, Ivan). In cases where differences cannot be resolved cooperatively, the school authority assumes the burden of proof in any subsequent legal proceedings. We have also contacted the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts regarding this matter and will be contacting the Home School Legal Defense Association as well.
Carolyn & Simon Fox