Reports of a significant ruling on Nebraska homeschools and their educational calendar schedule are out. Eric and Gail Thacker were charged and convicted of violating the compulsory attendance statute in County Court. Upon appeal, the decision was reversed by a Dawson County District Court judge. The Dawson County prosecutors followed that decision by appeal which culminated with the Nebraska Supreme Court taking the case on. Last Friday, the county prosecutors didn’t get what they hoped, as the Supreme Court released their decision about public school calendars vs private school – in this case, homeschool – calendar hours. It appears to be a victory for Nebraska homeschooling freedoms loosening up the time frame of their educational schedules a bit.
From the World-Herald Bureau
High court: Home schools not required to follow public school calendar By Joe Duggan and Julie Anderson
LINCOLN — Nebraska v. Thacker would make a good research assignment for a home-schooled kid.
In a victory for home-schoolers, the Nebraska Supreme Court said Friday that parents who teach their children need not strictly follow a public school calendar to comply with state law. What matters is that home-schooling parents make sure students get the required hours of instruction.
Fremont Tribune (AP) also posted an article about the issue: High court makes ruling in homeschooling case
OMAHA (AP) — The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled Friday that parents who homeschool their children are not under a deadline to begin teaching them, as long as the minimum instruction hours for the year are met by June 30.
The case stems from the 2011 convictions of Eric Thacker and his wife, Gail Morgan-Thacker, on misdemeanor counts of violating Nebraska’s school truancy laws.
The Nebraska minimum instruction hours are 1,032 for elementary schools and high school age students require 1,080 hours – to be met by June 30 of each year.
The Supreme Court’s major concern was expressed in the decision, as quoted below:
And § 79-201(2)[non-public school exemption] does not make the start of the public school calendar year the default start date for other schools. Nor does it provide that a child must attend a legally recognized school each day of the public school year. The State’s interpretation could have unintended consequences for private and parochial schools that operate on a different calendar year than their respective public school district. To the extent that § 79-201(2) is ambiguous whether a child must be enrolled and attending a legally recognized school until the State rec- ognizes an exempt private school, we construe that ambiguity against the State.
More background details here on HEM News & Commentary: Nebraska Supreme Court Case Heard