Think carefully before you decide whether or not to pay $85-$100 in annual dues to a homeschooling defense organization. Because of changes in state laws, lawsuits involving homeschooling are increasingly rare. Almost all situations can be handled effectively by assertive parents who are familiar with state homeschool laws. A state discussion list can offer you ideas, tips, tricks, particular wording, etc. that has been effective in your area. Find one at YahooGroups.com
If further assistance is needed, an inclusive state homeschooling association, such as VHEA can recommend a lawyer who is familiar with homeschooling law. You can find existing inclusive state associations at the National Home Education Network (NHEN) . If your state doesn't have such an association, consider starting one!
Before joining HSLDA, you will probably want to make sure that its mission is compatible with your beliefs. HSLDA's full agenda may include what you might not consider homeschooling issues, and which you would not care to support with your membership fee. For instance, the organization is opposed to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
For the full information you need in order to determine if HSLDA is for you, see "More Information About HSLDA," which has been updated and expanded for your benefit.
HSLDA's membership application requires you cooperate fully with the organization's determination of the line of defense, which means that, should you disagree, the organization might decline to represent you any further.
Consider the group's track record, disbursement of funds and percentage directly spent on members' legal defense, its other services and activities, involvement with other groups, whether or not the services are guaranteed, and who controls your case if you need legal representation.
It is wise to request and examine sample copies of the organization's newsletter, and any other literature-- such as information about prior cases, as well as financial statements-- before determining whether or not your family's best interests will be served by joining such an organization. You can learn more about HSLDA by clicking on the links below.
Be aware that:
In order to receive HSLDA's services, you must agree to use "an organized curriculum and a clearly recognizable program of education," which precludes unschooling.
HSLDA has a long-standing policy of not taking cases involved in domestic relations court--the kind of homeschooling cases most common today.
According to the Membership Application, "if you stop home schooling for any reason your HSLDA membership automatically terminates."
HSLDA does not have lawyers certified to practice law in every state, and, according to one of its own, members may be required to hire their own local attorney, because the organization acts only in an advisory capacity.
HSLDA's coverage of legal expenses may equal substantially less than your attorney's usual hourly rate, and may include a cap.
TO PRESERVE HOMESCHOOLING FREEDOMS, join your INCLUSIVE state homeschool association. Here in Virginia, that's the Virginia homeschooling legislative organization, VHEA . Since homeschooling laws are determined locally, your contribution to a state organization will be more effective than if you pay large sums to a national, top-down, multi-issue organization such as HSLDA.
*Stay Informed of Legislative Issues. Subscribe to the Legislative E-Mail Discussion list provided by NHEN. NHEN-Legislativefirstname.lastname@example.org
FREE: HOMESCHOOL LEGAL RESOURCES FORUM
OTHER LEGAL DEFENSE ORGANIZATIONS:
"A to Z Home's Cool" lists several legal resources helpful to homeschoolers.
The Pacific Justice Institute
Rutherford Institute Homepage
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