IAHE Action’s School to Prison Pipeline Response – Part 6

This post is our sixth of nine installments regarding the transcript from the Indiana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights hearing that was held on February 17, 2016.  Neither Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) nor IAHE Action knew about this meeting until after the fact.  You may read our other posts here, here, here, here, here and here.

TESTIMONY: Pg. 99 MS. DAVIS: Tammi Davis, thank you all for your presentations and I also have some challenges with the home schooling issue, at least as it relates here in Indiana. I do have family members who were home schooled and matriculated very well going on to college and post college studies, but one of the challenges that we face with our children, particularly as they are being defined as troubled kids, is that there are challenges at home. So if you have problems at home, you are expelled from school because of behavioral issues and then some adult, whether it is the parent or legal guardian on paper says, well, this child is being home schooled when they may not be actually home schooled because they are not regulated, then that becomes an additional challenge for our kids just being out there in the system.

IAHE Action’s Response: First, let us establish the context of “homeschooler” above. In the second half of the above excerpt, Ms. Davis is clearly talking about public school families who have been forced into homeschooling because of disciplinary actions of the public school administrators. These children are not homeschoolers, but public school dropouts who are not given the support required in their individual cases by school administrators. Contrast this context with that of homeschool parents who have actively chosen from all available educational options to take on the responsibility, expense and labor of home education. The family members Ms. Davis mentions would undoubtedly fall into this category. Equating the two situations requires a gross suspension of reality.

Hard cases make bad law. The answer should be to fix the problem at its source: the public school. Just as forced charity is no charity at all, forced homeschooling does not beget homeschooling.

Parents actively choosing to take a primary role in their children’s education are not the problem here and do not require regulation to do their jobs.

TESTIMONY: Pg. 99. So there are two things that I would like to know, how does one get classified as missing? What has to happen for a student to be determined as a missing child, missing student, number one; and then secondly, what correlation of study has been done relative to the number of homeless children, homeless students as would relate to this issue? Either one of you have done any research or work in that regard?

MS. DANIELS: Well, what I was told in terms of missing is that the child has not shown up to school, either the attendance clerk or social worker has gone to the home and no one is there, they can’t find the child, there is no track record. And so when you have to fill out your little codes at the end of the year what happened to all of your children, you just mark missing.

TESTIMONY: Pg. 100: The other code area that really kind of bothers us is the code area of transferred out of state. We are finding large numbers of youngsters who I don’t believe have transferred out of state but that’s a code that is marked by the school. I just can’t believe 37 kids transferred out of state in one of the schools that we have looked at.

And so there is lots of coding that I think is misplaced in terms of going back to the Department of Ed, which is a loophole which means that these kids are — where are the children? They could be on the streets, they could be — we don’t know. But one of the things that feeds this schoolhouse-to-jailhouse pipeline is the fact that no one knows where — what is happening in that child’s life on a daily basis.

He could be staying with a friend tonight, grandma the next night, somebody else the next night, he is just floating, just floating. So I think that there is things that the state could possibly do in terms of laws and regulations with the Department of Ed and the Department of Corrections which I think would help to identify all these missing children.

We went yesterday to the Indiana Missing Children’s Ledger, thousands of kids from all over the state, different counties, listed. And that was for Tuesday, February 15, that we looked at it and I was just in awe that all those kids are labeled as
missing. Name, birth date, 13-year-olds, 12-year-olds missing? Something is — there is not enough being done. We can talk about numbers, but we have got to talk about lives, we have got to talk about human beings, we have got to talk about our babies, our next, the ones that are supposed to take my place one day. We have got to start talking about where are these babies. And I am just bringing this up because I think that we need to have some help in terms of doing that. We can’t do that by our — we are non-profit, of course non-profits are not funded, we are out of our pockets, but we are willing to do this work because we have deep, deep convictions that we don’t want to see another black child end up in that system. So that’s why we are here today.  At Work For You

TESTIMONY: Pg. 102. MS. DAVIS: Just real quick, do you know the number of days that a student has to be missing out of the classroom before the counselors are dispatched to actually do a follow-up?

MS. DANIELS: They told me the child only has to be at school one day a month not to be considered truant. You know, you miss 29 days, come to school one day, he is not truant. That’s what the principals all told us. So truancy laws is something else that — this is a whole — all that coding needs to be looked at.

IAHE Action’s Response: There are numerous possibilities for why children and their families move from place to place. Possible causes could be immigration status of the parents, frequent relocation due to short-term living arrangements with friends, family or relationships or perhaps a job transfer relocated the family outside the school district. While a stable home environment is best, not all parents are able to provide a consistent living arrangement.

At IAHE, they advise families who leave the public school to homeschool to send a letter informing the school principal of their status change. Anyone not sending a letter could and should expect a truant officer to visit. They also inform their constituency of the laws regulating home education in Indiana. Their members know they must provide the same number of instructional days as the public schools and provide and an equivalent education.

IAHE is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to supporting, educating and advocating for homeschooling parents and their children. Since 1983, they have worked with countless families who are teaching their children and doing an excellent job. IAHE sacrifices to minister to these families, because of the importance of home education in the lives of our families. READ SOME OF THEIR TESTIMONIALS HERE.

5 thoughts on “IAHE Action’s School to Prison Pipeline Response – Part 6”

  1. The situation of thousands of Indiana children falling through the cracks, literally, grieves my heart as much as anyone on this committee. I saw it happening even in our low-population farming county, even in our tiny rural town of 1400 souls. I can only imagine the numbers happening in large cities. My husband was personal friends with our small town marshals for near twenty years, and overheard enlightening conversations. Certain parents of troubled – or trouble-causing – students signed the paperwork to declare they intended to homeschool so their son/daughter would not be reported as expelled. But, those children/youth were not being schooled. They were, literally, on the streets. The marshall did not refer to them as ‘homeschoolers’, ’cause he knew better. He would say, “Oh, he/she doesn’t go to school …..” and a truancy report was made. As I have shared earlier, some forced-out families sincerely wanted to continue the child’s education and would come seeking help/advice for homeschooling. These were usually parents of academically or socially struggling teens, who found themselves in trouble leading to expulsion by reason of associating with the wrong crowd. There was enough committment on the part of the parent and compliance from the child, to give home-education a fair chance for their success. But, I know that many, many more expelled (er, forced to “homeschool” youth) from very unstable situations did not receive any form of Home Education. The school perhaps reported them as ‘transferred’ to homeschool, but in truth they just transferred to the street fulltime. It is just not right! to coerce such parents into calling themselves “homeschoolers”, or let their children call themselves “homeschooled” when no schooling is taking place. It is especially Not Right for school officials to coerce this labeling to protect their own data, or do it to doubly punish both the student being disciplined and their parent. NOW, other options are available for these families. These parents should be given full disclosure of *all* options. I am excited and encouraged to hear about The Crossing school ministry. This sounds like a wonderful path to set before the most troubled/troubling youth and their parents/guardians. It seems to me, you also could use the option of Virtual public schooling with some tweaking, if the family life is stable enough to supervise the student. The Crossing (private school) and Virtual school-online (public) are genuine *schooling* options for these soon-to-be-expelled teens. There may be other options I am unaware of. But, I hope this committee and the Indiana government school system will stop this practice of forcing unprepared parents to call themselves “homeschoolers”. I hope our public school system will take up their responsibility to make sure no child is left behind, by discussing every reasonable option with the parents. The parent’s choice – including the choice of public education – is, indeed, a choice! If truancy happens, the current law should be applied. But, a truant youth should not be allowed to call himself “homeschooled”. He/she is not.

    1. That is amazing that officials know about these kids and nothing is done about it. It’s so very sad to see the low regard for education in allowing it to occur.

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