News Story

Michigan District Bans Homeschooled Girl From Homecoming Dance

Because she doesn't go to an 'accredited' school

Wayne-Westland Community Schools has a policy that states that homeschooled students who want to attend a dance such as Homecoming would have to come from an “accredited” homeschool. That would effectively ban homeschoolers from attending dances held by the district since homeschoolers have no reason to be accredited and the state doesn’t require it.

Karen Braun, a nationally recognized homeschooling activist in Michigan, said the school district is putting an unfair and unnecessary burden upon homeschoolers. Braun said parents contacted her and said their daughter, a homeschooling student, was invited to the upcoming Homecoming dance within the Wayne-Westland district. The student, though, was told she could not attend because she was not from an accredited homeschool. Braun posted the news on her Facebook wall. Braun didn’t have permission to release the name of the student, so she left out the student's name. The parent provided a copy of a form from the school.

The form, which the school sent to parents, stated that guests had to bring a current picture ID to be admitted to the dance.

It also stated, "Guests from online schools or guests who are homeschooled will need to submit a letter of good standing on school letterhead, including contact information, from a school official/administrator from an accredited program of study."

There are two accreditation programs in the state, but participation is voluntary.

“The question of bringing guests to the dance comes up every year,” said Wayne-Westland Community Schools spokeswoman Jenny Johnson in an email. “We refer students to the dance contract for the guidelines. Those guidelines do not preclude homeschooled students from attending our dances as a guest. Our student’s safety and welfare is always a primary concern to us. Our practice is to validate who is coming through our doors to ensure the safety of all students.”

According to the Michigan Department of Education, any reporting to the state by the homeschool parent is voluntary, as is accreditation. The state only requires reporting for homeschool students if the student is requesting special education services from the local public school or intermediate school district. Nonpublic schools are not required to be accredited.

Braun called the district's policy "absurd."

“In an era where a boy can self-identify as a girl and get access to anything the school has to offer, we are going to limit a homeschooler on the basis of accreditation to spend an evening with a friend,” she said.

Ben DeGrow, the director of education policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said in the eyes of Michigan law, homeschools function as private schools.

“Private schools don’t have to jump through the hoops of accreditation, and it makes no sense for families educating their kids at home to do so,” DeGrow said in an email. “By saying they only want ‘accredited’ homeschool students at their social functions, the district essentially is saying no homeschoolers whatsoever. Do they have the same rule prohibiting private school kids from attending, too?”

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.