Christians in Chicago have won the first round in their fight against a school official’s decision to force home-schooled children back into the public school classroom. Following a demonstration in front of the Cook County School District offices, Superintendent Richard J. Martwick announced he was postponing efforts to file suit against parents who taught their children at home.
At issue was a letter from Martwick’s office to parents in Cook County who were teaching their children at home. According to Chuck Busch, who with his wife has been home schooling for six months, the letter told them their children would be considered truant, “and unless we put them back in school within three days, we would be subject to court proceedings.”
Martwick’s threatened legal action puzzled home schoolers and education officials alike, since both the Illinois Supreme Court and the Illinois Board of Education had ruled that home schools legally qualify as private schools. On January 6, Martwick received a letter from the state board of education informing him his position on home schooling was inconsistent with state law.
Jan Arduini, a spokesperson for the Christian Home Educators Coalition, says parents met with district officials but were told that if their children did not begin attending school, they would be considered truant. At that point, parents sought help from the Christian Connection, an activist group that had successfully campaigned against the city’s proposed gay-rights legislation. “They came to us because they had talked to Martwick and couldn’t get anywhere,” says spokesperson Susan Levin.
On January 15, parents staged a demonstration that attracted local media coverage. Later that day, Martwick issued a statement saying he was “putting on hold” his attempts to charge home schoolers with truancy until legislators review the state’s compulsory education law later this year.
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