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CLEVELAND — A legal group representing a homeschool mom is filing an appeal after an Ohio magistrate and then a judge convicted her of a misdemeanor after she failed to file the proper paperwork.
“Can a mother whose son is not missing any school, learning eagerly, and even excelling academically still be considered criminally reckless when it comes to his education?” attorney Jim Mason of the Home School Legal Defense Association wrote at the HSLDA website.
The magistrate praised homeschool mom Valerie Bradley for “being so successful with the education aspect” of her homeschool program but then sentenced her to 180 days in jail for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. A common pleas judge changed the charge to failing to send her son to school and removed the jail sentence, but HSLDA said all charges should be dropped.
As Off the Grid News reported in October, the controversy began shortly after Bradley and her husband, David, started homeschooling their son in January 2015.
“That summer the Bradleys received a form letter from school officials requesting that by August 1 they file a notice of intent for the coming year, as well as a student end-of-year assessment,” Mason wrote. “A short time later, Mrs. Bradley spoke with a school employee who told her, correctly, that there is no deadline for the student assessment.”
By late October, the Bradleys had filed their notice of intent, which the school system deemed too late.
“It was then that the state filed a criminal complaint against Mrs. Bradley, alleging that the delay in filing her homeschool paperwork had contributed to the delinquency of her child,” Mason wrote. “
But Valerie Bradley had been teaching her son the entire time and noted in court he was “doing better than when he was in public school.” In fact, on his end-of-year assessment, he scored in the 97th percentile.
HSDLA is appealing the judge’s ruling in an attempt to get the conviction overturned.
“In our brief, HSLDA is asking for the chance to demonstrate how state officials bungled Mrs. Bradley’s case in three fundamental areas: homeschool law, the procedure for dealing with truancy, and the determination of when a parent is reckless,” Mason wrote.
The Aug. 1 deadline is not in state law and is completely arbitrary, HSLDA says.
Further, Mason asserted, she was not acting recklessly, which is legally defined as acting “with indifference toward a known and obvious risk” to a child.
“Mrs. Bradley acted precisely as the legislature intended parents should act when questioned about truancy: promptly and decisively. That should have been the end of the matter,” Mason wrote.
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