Remember the Missouri judge who tried to bully a homeschooling family for an appearance into a fake truancy court proceeding?:

In the last fifteen years, the number of homeschooled children in this country has doubled. The rate of children leaving the public schools has increased in the last couple of years as parents become more and more frustrated with curriculums aligned to the Common Core standards, increased testing and PC ideology espoused by the schools. Setting your child up to be homeschooled is more or less difficult depending upon which state you live in.  If you live in Missouri, which has very accommodating statute regarding homeschooling, it is generally an easy transition, or at least it used to be. If you live in Douglas County it could be a much more difficult or scary process.

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) sent an email to its members alerting them to a scam taking place in Douglas County Missouri. There a local circuit court judge is complicit in sending official looking letters to families who opted to homeschool threatening them with possibly loss of custody of their children if they did not appear before a fake truancy court.


HSLDA opposed the local circuit judge (Judge Craig R. Carter) and today, that organization released a letter that should cause all parents to cheer.  From HSLDA and “Truancy Court” Judge Surrenders:


Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

On Thursday, April 14, 2016, Judge R. Craig Carter quashed a summons commanding an Ava family to appear in “truancy court.” “Quash” means “to annul or make void.” According to the order, “The 44th Circuit of Missouri Juvenile Office is ordered to dismiss and not prosecute any actions against any member of the Swearengin family.”

“By quashing the summons,” said Michael Farris, founder and chairman of HSLDA, “the judge has as much as said that it never should have been issued in the first place.”

The controversy began when Anthony and Tiffany Swearengin decided to withdraw their two children from public school to homeschool them. Within days they received a summons to appear in “truancy court.” The summons said that “attendance is mandatory” and that failure to attend could result in the loss of custody of their children. You can read more about this case on HSLDA’s website.

HSLDA asked the Supreme Court of Missouri to prohibit the summons from being executed. It ordered Judge Carter to respond. On Friday, April 15, Judge Carter notified the Supreme Court that he had quashed the summons. The Supreme Court denied HSLDA’s writ almost immediately after learning that the summons had been quashed. Although the Supreme Court’s order doesn’t give a reason, we assume that it considered the matter moot once the summons had been quashed.

As head of HSLDA’s litigation team, I was disappointed that the Supreme Court did not take the opportunity to clarify how voluntary truancy mitigation programs are supposed to be operated. However, we are considering what steps to take next to make sure this doesn’t happen again.


James R. Mason, III
Vice President, Director of Litigation


Douglas County Missouri residents, Judge Craig R. Carter will be up for re-election in 2018 unless action is taken against him for his attempting to prosecute a homeschooling family for no legal reasons.  Remember his name if it appears on a future ballot.


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