This homeschooler will not be calling the attendance officer

In Mr. Frank Valadez’s letter of June 16, he explains why the Gilroy Unified School District is taking a harder look at homeschoolers. He finds that an increasing number of truant families in GUSD claim to be homeschooling in order to “keep investigative personnel at bay and as a means of avoiding prosecution.”

He therefore expects all R-4 filing families to contact him for an appointment so he can determine whether we are in compliance and whether our children are in attendance. He finishes with some ominous words about “the need for visits to the home or places of employment.”

I would like to explain why I will not be contacting Mr. Valadez after I file my R-4 affidavit next September.

I have many protected constitutional rights. One of these is the right to direct the education of my children. I choose to enroll my minor children in a (very) private school which, as it happens, I also own and operate.

To comply with the actual law, as opposed to Mr. Valadez’s misinterpretation of it, I file an annual affidavit, known as the R-4, in which I swear under penalty of perjury that my children are in attendance. I keep an attendance register, indicating clearly every absence of a half-day or more, I teach the several branches of education as required by law, I ensure that the teachers are capable of teaching and that instruction is carried out in English, and so forth.

I actually do comply with these requirements. It’s not hard.

Mr. Valadez wants me to do more. He wants me to call him and schedule an appointment so that he can determine whether I am in compliance. He admits that some parents will regard his made-up procedures as a major intrusion.

His procedures are not merely a major intrusion. They also constitute a prior restraint of one of my protected constitutional rights.

Let me make an analogy. I don’t do drugs. I comply with all drug laws. Nonetheless, were a uniformed police officer to show up on my doorstep and say, “Excuse me, ma’am, there have been instances of drug use within the city limits of Gilroy, so we want to just step inside to make sure you are not violating the controlled substances law.” I would refuse.

I have nothing to hide, but I would not let him in without a warrant, which would not be issued except on probable cause. If he insisted on entering, he would be violating my Fourth Amendment rights. Abrogating our rights would make matters much more convenient for the police (and the attendance officer.) Perhaps that is why a government that does not respect the rights of its citizens is called a police state.

Mr. Valadez also states that the district is not targeting homeschooling families in its pursuit of truants, but that “the process must be applied equally.” In that case, I expect that Mr. Valadez also requires the principals of St. Mary School and Pacific West Christian Academy to call him, make an appointment, parade their teachers through his office so he can make sure they are capable of teaching, in English, the several branches, show him their attendance registers and curricula … Apply the process equally, Mr. Valadez.

One more comment: homeschoolers educate their children. Truants don’t. But there are a growing number of families who do not particularly want to homeschool, but who take their kids out in desperation because of academic or social meltdown at school.

To prevent the exodus of these refugees, the schools and the district need to take very seriously all complaints of harassment and all cases where teachers decide to pursue an agenda rather than educate.

Lastly, as a taxpayer, I am appalled at the waste of public funds occasioned by Mr. Valadez’s meddling with law-abiding R-4 filers. It could be even more expensive for the district in legal fees and potentially in damages should some homeschooler pursue a civil rights violation.

Therefore, I would like to see the Gilroy School Board direct Superintendent Edwin Diaz to direct Mr. Frank Valadez to confine his attention to cases of truancy.

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