Legal Defense

BCHLA’s Legal Defence Information

BCHLA’s Constitution , in part, reads:

2. The purposes of this Society are:

(b) to provide support, encouragement, legal and educational assistance, advice and counsel to members and others involved or interested in home education.

BCHLA’s roots are found in legal assistance. Who have we helped?

  • 1988: A Kelowna homeschooling family was charged with truancy in the spring. The lawyer retained could not believe that home educating parents would not have had the sense to associate themselves together into a provincial organization. He urged Vicki Livingstone, who acted as advocate for this family, to begin such an organization-and BCHLA was born! The school district also dropped the charges against the family. NOTE: CHEA of BC was renamed BC Home Learner’s Association by membership vote at CHEA AGM in 1999. CHEA’s activities to 1999 are listed as BCHLA.
  • 1990: A Port Coquitlam family (non-BCHLA members) became involved in a Social Services’ apprehension. BCHLA worked closely with the Balfour family, finding them legal help, encouragement and fund raising. Result? The family won the case. An important court precedent was set. Judge Collings ruled as unacceptable the allegations of emotional or psychological abuse: “I have the most profound misgivings over whether such terms may ever be defined with sufficient objectivity to make them appropriate grounds for the apprehension of children.”
  • 1991: A Shawnigan Lake homeschooling mom (non-BCHLA member) was being challenged by the birth father of her 11 year old son about her capability to teach him at home. BCHLA supported the family with information and counsel. Result? Mom won the case in court. An important court precedent was set that the education level of the mother does not affect her ability to teach her children in the home. (This mom does not have her grade 12 diploma.) The mom became a BCHLA member and continued successfully to homeschool her son. He is now studying at BCIT.
  • 1993: A Cranbrook homeschooling mom (CHEA member) alleged to have sexually abused a two year old in her daycare. Social Services appeared with a warrant demanding to interview their own children regarding this allegation. Parents refused to submit to this intrusion into their children’s lives. Result? After investigations no charges were made.
  • 1994: In a custody case where a Richmond mother with full custody chose to home educate, the father challenged her on the premises that the child would not be appropriately socialized. A Legal aid lawyer had advised the mother (non-CHEA member) to send her child to public school to avoid conflict. That lawyer was referred to CHEA and a CHEA director was able to educate the lawyer on the mother’s legal rights as found in the B.C. School Act. Moments before the hearing, the father agreed not to pursue the case any further.
  • 1994: A home educating family (non-CHEA member) was reported to the Superintendent of Kamloops School District for not being registered and not having an adequate program. After unsuccessfully attempting to contact the family, the Superintendent sent the RCMP to the family’s residence. CHEA provided counseling and a copy of the Home education sections of the B.C. School Act to the mother. The child was registered, the mother met with the superintendent and no further action was taken by the school district.
  • 1994: Salmon Arm parents (non-CHEA members), who had made the chose to home educate their child after he had been in school for one full year, were contacted by social Services by phone and a home visit. Threats that further action would be taken by Social Services unless the child was enrolled in the nearest public school even after the mom gave assurances that the child was to be starting B.C. correspondence once the materials arrived. A support leader connected CHEA and the parents. CHEA provided counseling and information. The situation was resolved and the family became CHEA members.
  • 1994: Someone reported a home educating family (non-CHEA members) for an inadequate program and because of concerns over the mother’s health. A West Vancouver school district official investigated and passed the case to Social Services. CHEA was contacted, counseled with the parents and the registering independent school. A Ministry of Education comment was made that “the school district’s lawyers would never proceed.” Social Services correctly assessed that no involvement by them was warranted.
  • 1995: A Vancouver island home educating family (initially non-CHEA members) became embattled in court hearings with the birth mother who became concerned about socialization”. The family contacted CHEA, receiving counseling and information. The case was resolved with the non-birth parents gaining full custody.
  • 1996: An Okanagan family (CHEA members) contacted CHEA for advice because Social Services started investigating their family on allegations of abuse. The parents refused to allow the male social worker to question their child alone. The case was resolved by Social Services on ‘no-grounds’.
  • 1996: An Alberni school district superintendent contacted a home educating family to “routinely check up on the home education program”, at which time the family ( non-CHEA members) immediately contacted CHEA. A letter was written by CHEA to the superintendent, enclosing CHEA’s sheets on the B.C. law on home educating. The superintendent apologized stating “I must admit I had no knowledge of the degree to which home schooling had become separate and almost completely independent from district and provincial jurisdiction.”
  • 1996: A Vancouver Island school principal contacted a home schooling parent, informing her that she had to bring her home schooling son in for testing. The mother contacted BCHLA and a letter was written by BCHLA to the principal, district staff and the ministry of education. The matter was resolved.
  • 1997: A Richmond home schooling family (initially non-BCHLA members) had their children apprehended for one week by the ministry of children and family services due to reports of corporal punishment. BCHLA provided the family and their legal counsel with home schooling information. After the ministry of children and family services investigation, no charges were laid and the children were returned home. The family joined BCHLA and some of the BCHLA members donated towards the legal costs (BCHLA acting as a clearing house).

We are concerned about cases involving home educators that go before the B.C. courts. How home education is perceived by the court could reflect upon home education generally and the ruling made could set a legal precedent that would affect all home educators. BCHLA will become involved in any case that arises, assisting the home schooling family in finding legal counsel, resources and fundraisers as necessary. Because of BC’s excellent, non-intrusive home educating laws, most legal situations:

  1. do not focus on a parents rights to home educate:
  2. can, in many instances, be defused before involving court proceedings simply by educating all parties concerned as to the research and results of home education and by BCHLA personally counseling the family involved.

Issues involving home education and parental rights in BC courts need all of our support!

BCHLA represents Section 12 registered homeschooling families to government, school districts, school trustees and legislators. We have successfully established good communications within the province, and encourage home educators to maintain the level of personal involvement and unified voice that is necessary to keep our grassroots organization strong and effective.

  • 1988: organized a province-wide response to the Royal Commissions On Education touring the province, preparatory to the re-writing of the school act, and submitted a brief from our newly formed provincial organization of home educators. BCHLA’s founding president met with the Government and Opposition caucuses in Victoria. We outlined our philosophies and recommendations for the provisions for home education in the new School Act. BCHLA and the home educators of BC greatly impacted what was written into law, coming to the defence of all home educators.
  • 1989: successfully organized a province-wide lobby to educate voted-in Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) in anticipation of the new School Act as to our desires for good laws pertaining to home education.
  • 1990: encouraged protest against several offensive articles in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and published a “Parent/Child Relationships at Risk” fact sheet warning about the Convention. Canada later ratified the document despite the opposition to it.
  • 1991: represented the BCHLA membership to the B.C. School Trustees Association when their Fernie trustees recommended; “that the BCSTA request the Minister of Education to amend the school act to authorize the Minister to: (1) determine the general nature of education programs for use in home schooling; and (2) establish an active process for monitoring the educational programs of children who are educated at home.” The BCSTA voted not to act on this recommendation.
  • 1992: notified the membership to submit briefs to the Ministry of Social Services and Housing, Community Panel. It toured the province in response to the call of the Provincial Ombudsman for a review of the Ministry’s legislation. The public outcry against injustices perpetrated by Social Services against families began with the media exposure to the Balfour apprehension.
  • 1993: drew attention to the new Infant’s Act which became law in January and was supportive of Citizen’s Research Institute in its court injunction against this law.
  • 1994: continued to educate and encourage parents to work for legislation that protects the family from unwarranted state intervention into their homes by writing provincial MLAs.
  • 1995: wrote and faxed to the Ministry of Education on a variety of issues affecting home educators.
  • 1996: contacted the leaders of all the political parties before the spring provincial election to educate them about home education and the strong desire of the home educators of BC to keep our laws non-intrusive. BCHLA encourages members to stay in touch with their MLAs and to be public ambassadors for home education.
  • 1997: Emailed the Ministry of Education on several minor issues affecting home educators.
  • 1998: Discussed the issue of Ministry approved electronic delivered education programs with officials of the Ministry of Education
  • 1999: Met with Independent Schools Inspector regarding issue of social workers investigating home educators; informed BCHLA members about he work of the Special Education Review Team. Contacted local MLA and BC Education Critic to inform them about BC home education.
  • 2000: Filed questions regarding on-line EDE learning programs with Education Critic which were presented during Estimates Committee work in the BC Legislative Assembly; remarks are now public record on Hansard (see June 1, 2000, 1:30 pm sitting)
  • 2001:Met with Independent Schools Inspector regarding district home-based learning programs; university and college admissions for home schooled students.
  • 2001: BCHLA monitors development of school district home-based learning programs advocating for minimal regulation and high quality support for these programs: university and college admissions for home schooled students.
  • 2002: BCHLA submission to the Select Standing Committee on Education titled “Distance Delivered Education in BC.” BCHLA submission to the Provincial Graduation Requirements Review and attendance at the Provincial Graduation Requirements Review Symposium.
    • BCHLA President attended the first-ever Premier’s Dialogue on Education held in June.
    • BCHLA publishes Media Kit on Home Learning for government and major media contacts.
    • BCHLA provides home school information to two mothers facing homeschool custody battles.
    • BCHLA publishes revised BCHLA Resources Booklet.

How Can You Strengthen BCHLA’s Position?

  1. Become a BCHLA member-keep informed through BCHLA News, the triannual newsletter of the provincial organization.
  2. Contact BCHLA immediately, providing factual information, if you hear of a situation developing in your region.
  3. Stay in personal touch with your local MLA and be a public ambassador for home education.
  4. Write letters to government ministries when necessary and forward copy to BCHLA.
  5. Volunteer time with BCHLA helping directors with their duties. (BCHLA needs volunteer researchers, people to man displays, writers of promotional materials, and website updates. Contact BCHLA for details.

Donations are gladly received for BCHLA’s Legal Defence Fund. Mark your donations “BCHLA Legal Defence”.