by Mike Donnelly, HSLDA
An Irish circuit court has reined in an agency that had become increasingly intrusive in a major precedent-setting case.
On September 26, 2019, the court issued a seven-page ruling in Tusla v. Sunshine holding that Irish homeschoolers do not have to use the national Child and Family Agency’s form known as R-1 when “applying” for home education registration in the Republic of Ireland. The judge wrote succinctly, “I am satisfied that the prosecuting authority is incorrect in asserting that full completion of Form R1 is a necessary prerequisite to the Preliminary Assessment.”
Many homeschoolers objected to the form as it gave open-ended and uninformed “consent” for ongoing assessments and demanded large amounts of personal information not required by law.
Irish homeschoolers resisted increasing pressure from the agency, charged by statute with overseeing the home education registration process. Some homeschool families left the country to escape prosecution; others were convicted and spent time in jail.
FAMILY FIGHTS BACK
Although the Irish constitution explicitly protects the right of home education, the Irish Legislature enacted a statute requiring registration in 2000.
In September 2018, Catherine and Nicholas Sunshine were convicted in a district court proceeding of not sending their oldest child to a “recognized” school. The parents had refused to use Tusla’s form to apply for registration for home education.
In turn, agency officials refused to accept the family’s written homeschool notification and sent a notice purporting to require the child to attend an otherwise “recognized” school. The school attendance notice was enforced under section 25(4) of the education welfare act of 2000 as a criminal truancy prosecution.
© 2019 Home School Legal Defense Association