When did Homeschooling Become a Crime?
Written by Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law on December 4, 2015
The school district in Santa Rosa County is requiring that parents who homeschool their children to register their children in a public or private school. If the parents fail to comply then they could be subjected to criminal charges.
An Overview of the School’s Policy
The Santa Rosa policy began by requiring parents to provide the school district with information such as race, grade level, and social security number of their children. The district also requested the parents to demonstrate proof of residency, but proof of residency is not required under state law.
After the school was contacted by the lawyer of the families who homeschool, the families were sent letters that their request to homeschool their children was denied. The letter further stated that each family had to register their children in public or private school in the next three days. If the parents fail to comply, they could face criminal charges.
Since Florida law does not require parents to show proof of residency when homeschooling their children, the parents would not have been subjected to any criminal charges under the first policy. However, since the policy has been updated and the parents were sent letters denying their request, the parents may be prosecuted under Florida’s laws. Section 1003.27(2) states that if a parent or guardian does not enroll their child in an attendance option after the homeschool education program ended then the parent could face criminal charges.
A parent that fails to comply with this law could face second-degree misdemeanor charges. This means that if the parents are convicted of failing to register their children in an attendance option homeschool program, they could face up to six months in jail or a $500 fine. When the parents’ attorneys contacted the school’s attorney, they were told to take the case to court and that other school districts were taking similar action. As of right now, the parents’ lawyers were able to get the district to hold off prosecuting the families for not complying with the law. In the meantime, families who homeschool in Santa Rosa plan to attend the next school district meeting.
This case is an example of a policy that one does not typically associate with criminal law having criminal consequences. It will be interesting to see what will come as the effect of this policy. If the district decides to keep the policy in place, then the parents may also need to hire a criminal defense attorney or move to another county.
Contact a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have questions regarding whether you can face criminal charges for homeschooling your child in Florida or if you have been charged with a criminal offense, you should not hesitate to contact a lawyer. Our attorneys at Moses and Rooth have experience working on criminal defense cases. Our legal team is available to speak with you at 407-377-0150 and set up your free consultation.