Briefs filed on behalf of homeschool families in appeal to Alaska Supreme Court over ‘allotment program’

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A mother of twins born prematurely — one an autistic child and the other who has cerebral palsy — has filed a legal brief in support of the state “allotment program” that financially assists homeschool and correspondence school families so they can have individualized learning programs for their children.

That correspondence and homeschool allotment program was challenged by the National Education Association, which argues that if kids are not in government schools, their parents should pay for their education out of their own funds, not using public money. The NEA claims that parents are using the money for religious education.

An Alaska Superior Court judge ruled earlier this year that the state program is unconstitutional and must end. The ruling, which impacts up to 24,000 students in Alaska, is going to the Alaska Supreme Court for an appeal by the State Department of Law on behalf of the Department of Education. Oral arguments are scheduled for the week of June 24, just one week before Judge Adolf Zeman’s ruling goes into effect.

Attorney General Treg Taylor in his appeal wrote that Zeman erred in declaring the homeschool and correspondence school allotments as unconstitutional, and he further erred when he concluded that “purchasing educational services and materials from private organizations with public funds” violates the constitution. In fact, even in schools, educational services and materials are purchased from private companies every day. Judge Zeman dug his heels in and denied the state a summary judgment.

In the amicus brief filed by the Alaska mother last week, her lawyers describe how she had homeschooled her children because of their unique medical conditions.

An amicus brief is a friend-of-the-court brief. It may be opposed by either party, as it is not filed in support of either party.

“She made this decision because she felt that she could meet her children’s needs at that time in a way the school district was unable to. This is never an easy decision because homeschooling is a significant undertaking in terms of time and resources, and for families without significant financial resources, it is incredibly difficult. The allotments authorized by AS 14.03.310 are a lifeline to these families and were significant to Ms. Boden,” the brief states.

When the mother was homeschooling, she used the state financial allotments for:

  • Piano lessons
  • Voice lessons
  • Online math and history lessons
  • Specialized autism curriculum
  • Martial arts classes
  • Private swim lessons
  • The hotdoggers ski program at Hilltop Ski Area
  • Challenge Alaska ski lessons at Alyeska Report in Girdwood
  • Internet reimbursement; and
  • Technology purchase (a computer)

“The educational benefits of these uses are self-apparent. Nonetheless, it is worth highlighting the impact of some of these programs. For example, the piano and voice lessons were not only therapeutic for Ms. Boden’s child with cerebral palsy, they increased her self-confidence and ability to perform, which in turn has allowed her to now be meaningfully involved with choir at her current neighborhood school and participate in programs with the Alaska Theatre of Youth,” the brief explains.

“Similarly, participation in ski and karate lessons are not only a form of physical therapy, but also provide for important socialization and building skills for working within groups of people. These are important benefits that should not be taken away from hundreds of families simply because others may be using allotment funds in an unconstitutional manner,” the brief says.

Often, the homeschool and correspondence school families use their allotments for:

  • Dyslexia tutoring
  • Learning therapy programs
  • Specialized educational curriculum tailored to their child’s needs and disability
  • Purchasing assisted learning devices and specialized learning software
  • Field trips and outings to museums and artistic performances; and
  • Purchasing supplies for therapeutic learning and art

“What is also important to keep in mind is that many of the specialized tutoring and therapy programs would not exist but for the critical mass of homeschool students enabled by the allotments,” the brief continues.

The uses of the homeschool allotments described in the brief don’t trigger constitutional concerns, the lawyers write.

“To conclude otherwise would require concluding that all private tutors and therapists and all vendors who sell adaptive learning equipment qualify as ‘educational institutions,’ a conclusion that is entirety untenable. The above-listed use of allotment funds cannot be reasonably characterized as money ‘from public funds for the direct benefit of any religious or other private educational institution.'” the brief argues.

Yet if the Court adopts one of the “all or nothing” approaches currently being advocated by the NEA and its plaintiffs, these families will lose access to these allotment funds through no fault of their own and they will experience significant hardship as a result.

“There is no sound reason to eliminate the allotment program in its entirety simply because certain uses of the funds may be
unconstitutional. Numerous families statewide use these allotment funds in clearly constitutional ways. Equity and justice require that their voices be heard in these proceedings,” the brief says.

Read the entire brief here:

A separate amicus brief was filed last week by the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District, which offers many homeschool and correspondence school programs.

Mat-Su School District operates three public correspondence schools: Mat-Su Central School, Knik Charter School, and Twindly Bridge Charter School. These program educate over 3,000 students — about 16% of the student population of the district.

“The families that participate in the MSBSD’s public correspondence schools do so for a variety of reasons, but for many, a key reason is the allotment program. With the help and oversight of school administrators, correspondence allotments allow families to seek out resources and materials tailored to the educational needs of their own children. Such resources and materials can include textbooks, tutoring services, extra-curricular activities, and tuition for college courses (last year, more than 470 credits were earned by our correspondence students from a variety of public and private universities, including UAA and APU),” the district writes in its brief.

In many cases, allotments are used to reimburse expenses from the same vendors and service providers that also operate within the district’s “brick-and-mortar” or “neighborhood” schools, the district explains in its brief.

“The MSBSD has spent thousands of hours developing detailed procedures and guidelines for how allotment dollars may be used, and on vetting specific instructional partners and course materials for appropriateness and educational quality. The MSBSD sees no principled basis for targeting the resources made available for correspondence students – many of whom live in more rural areas – when those very same resources are being purchased for students at brick-and-mortar schools. Public correspondence school students have relied on these allotments for the past ten years and have had tremendous success utilizing the allotments to further their education,” the district writes.

The Zeman ruling impacts as many as 24,518 Alaska students, fully 17.3% of all Alaska enrollment in the 28 districts that have programs that give flexibility to families to create individual learning plans for their children that may combine correspondence, homeschool, tutoring, and more. It impacts the $119,559,805 these districts get in state funding.

If the Zeman ruling were to stand, there would be no public correspondence school options in Alaska and families currently in correspondence school would be forced to pay for what is otherwise public schooling out of their own pockets. 

The case was filed last year by a group backed by the National Education Association-Alaska, with liberal activist attorney Scott Kendall (Alaskans for Better Elections fame) as one of the lawyers suing the state.

25 COMMENTS

  1. If the parents that choose not to enroll their children in government funded schools do not receive any funding for their education shouldn’t they be exempt from being taxed for public education?
    Shouldn’t they be completely exempt from any standardized testing or educational requirements set by the government? 🤷🏻‍♂️🤷🏻‍♂️

    • We are the government, that’s why we vote, we can’t have a special school for everyone, home schooled kids are spoiled, jumping up and down on the backyard trampoline while the other kids are in school, running around town with mommy who hasn’t a clue how to teach save far fetched stories from a religious book.

      • My daughter isn’t spoiled and she is homeschooled. She studies at least 8 hours a day, takes extra classes and is far more ahead than she would be if she went to public school where teachers are apathetic and bad behaving kids have no disciplinary actions.

        • Yupik; Good on you and your daughter, you’re the exception, and yes public schools need reform, discipline.

      • The only way your story makes sense is if you are the “mommy who hasn’t a clue” and you’re confessing it to everyone here. Clearly you don’t understand homeschooling and its benefits.

      • Righttttt…..That’s why my homeschooled finished UAF in 4 years and law school on full scholarship with fellowship to a prominent DC firm. He did a few hours of school daily because most of the day in school is wasted. The big struggle with homeschool is to stretch the year beyond March or April.

      • I, for one, firmly believe in public school ONLY. If a kid needs any type of special services, say for instance a program for dyslexia, that child should be funneled off into a job skills program. No point teaching those kids to read. Once they receive special attention in elementary school, they’ll inevitably demand it later in life. So, these become the welfare class.

        We can avoid all that by removing children from these “school choice” parents, assigning them a wife and productive work in a factory, and providing them with a minimum living income. The outcomes for society will be totally predictable and controlled. Need more cooks? Breed them. Society getting a little too white and too male? Cull them! It’s a future I so look forward to!

          • You guessed it! What amazes me is how the lefties who ACTUALLY think these things don’t realize they are simply acting out the story line of Huxley’s dystopian novel. Predictive programming, anyone?

      • 3rd, can you please point out the section in the constitution that says that all children have to attend government-funded schools? Some of the lefties seem to think that our constitution says that we have to let the government raise our children.

      • 3rd so you argue that the collective knows better than the individual what is best for their child. You also demand that all bend to the collective view. How far those former hippies have strayed from “free love and do what feels right” to “my way or the highway”! Sadly it appears that for some years now they have become “the man”!
        If a family decides to use a religious book for some of their teaching, what business is that of yours? I bet you teach your children your values and like the ones the public school system supports. That is your choice, but it should never be everybody’s mandatory choice.

    • Agree with the taxation statement except that those receiving these allotments are enrolled in the public school system as the homeschool programs they are enrolled in are public schools and those districts are receiving funding for each enrolled child schooled at home. Then add also the student is supervised and overseen by the public school program they are enrolled in.

      Those home educating privately do not receive allotments so perhaps they should be exempt from taxes…..

  2. So much for the American dream, eh? One judge decides you can’t be free to choose and calls it unconstitutional. How can choice and freedom be unconstitutional?

    And why am I not surprised Scott Kendall has his fingers in this?

  3. The problem of the public education bureaucracy has something in common with that of the homelessness issue. The more money we throw at these problems the bigger they grow.

  4. It just seems very inequitable that the AK Courts would throw out a valuable K12 education program because some very few correspondence school districts failed to do due diligence re approving funds. This failure is the responsibility of the correspondence schools, themselves, not the home school parents. Fault the schools, not the parents nor the children.

    Note that the Judge Zeman did not address the Direct vs. Indirect funding of private and parochial schools. The AK Constitution ONLY prohibits the Direct funding of those schools. The courts need to define Indirect funding such as using one’s PFD to pay for a child’s private education.

    This entire case seems also to be a last ditch effort by the NEA-AK to shut down competition, increase its membership by forcing kids into brick & mortar schools, and thus increase its funding. The teachers’ union would be better off improving the quality of K12 education by improving the quality of the teacher workforce. Reward the most effective classroom teachers more; help the less effective classroom teachers become more effective through remedial training/mentorship; and remove those ineffective classroom teachers who are robbing our children of their futures.

  5. When your home school program has a dual enrollment specialist it is an attempt to circumvent the Alaska Constitution. Even Dunleavy admitted to the need to change the Alaska Constitution back in 2014 to do what he had proposed while in the Alaska Legislature. He went ahead and did it anyways and is now the right is screaming about an attack on home schooling. Enough of the lies!

    • Interesting!
      So here are questions for you:
      Can you give us your definition of “Freedom”, please.
      Do you think that every child is entitled to the best education?
      Do you believe that our public schools provide the best education for all students?
      Are parents in charge of what form of education is best for their kid or the state?

      Dual enrollment simply means students participate in more than one program (ie home or public school students also enrolled in UAA classes).

      The education funds are commonly collected and held by the state AND collected from the incorporated areas (over 50% of property tax of the Muni goes toward the ASD). The state is charged with providing the means for kids to be educated, why should the money be withdrawn from some, but not others?
      The discussion you seem to allude to in 2014, is regarding the Blaine amendment, which was found unconstitutional by the US supreme court, but still remains in our constitution. It seems only fair that all education money should follow the child!

  6. This issue is at the very heart of the ongoing social decay, loss of individual liberty, and the state shaping the public into accepting our Alaska version of socialism, the permanent governing caste system and loss of family and individual sovereignty. The state is unable to create and maintain a vibrant education system, as they are unable to maintain any other basic functions, ferry system, a just judicial system, energy security, etc. All public resources used to educate children belong to the children themselves. They rely on their parents to make the best decisions, not the state, much less union bosses and their lawyers who own, and often themselves are, our politicians and judges in our courts. Union leaders are equal opportunity vultures who exploit both children and teachers for financial gain, power and influence. Whatever the state spends on average for each child, that entire amount must be available for the parents of that child to purchase the education system they choose. Public resources cannot be monopolized, leveraged and wasted by special interests for their own personal benefit and profit.

  7. In many ways the Trump trial and conviction was preordained. We’ve been headed there for decades.

    We don’t govern anymore. We sue.

  8. “What is also important to keep in mind is that many of the specialized tutoring and therapy programs would not exist but for the critical mass of homeschool students enabled by the allotments,” the brief continues.

    I counter: many of the specialized tutoring and therapy programs would not exist but for federal and state funds.

    Everyone is so used to using other people’s money for all the things they “need,” they haven’t a clue what it would take to homeschool on their own.

    Not unlike health insurance driving up medical expenses, what do you think the presence of available allotment money has done to the cost of educational goods and services?

    Does homeschooling independent of allotment monies require hard work, sacrifice, and dedication? Yes! Might it mean re-examining your priorities and moving some more expenditures from the “necessity” column into the “luxury” column and learning how to do without your third car payment, annual family vacation, snow machines, ATV’s, etc.? Maybe!

    We Americans think we “need” so much, our standard of living is completely bloated and grotesque. Suzanne published a piece not too long ago detailing the income “needed” to live singly or with a family in different places in the US. It was revolting.

    Unless we’re willing to consider whether or not our fight as homeschooling families is truly about “independence” or simply clamoring for another piece of entitlement pie, we’re shooting ourselves in the feet.

    • Nice try.
      You make it sound as if these funds are somehow a “luxury” handout. These are tax funds that have been collected for the purpose of educating all our kids in the state. We are paying teachers and school administrators with these funds. Home school parents fulfill the same service at a fraction of the cost, while school districts still receive some funding for administration in many jurisdictions. If homeschoolers in your ungenerous description are only clamoring for a piece of the “entitlement pie” for the “ATV”, their test scores and lack of accomplishments would bear that out. However that is not the case. Home schooled students in general have better test scores than their public school brethren. Home schooling is a lot of work, planning and documenting for the sake of a well-educated child, with the flexibility to personalize the educational program to the individual student’s needs.
      Home schooling is an embarrassment to the education establishment. It proofs that a determined parent can educated their child better and provide the needed support in a more appropriate and timely manner than our billions of dollar spending public schools.
      Why not support the homeschool option? It is cheaper and more effective.
      Everyone always yells about “choice” but when it comes right down to it, it is about money (and public education unions want it all) and control.

  9. Studied predestination in High School social studies course, to your point, everything happens for a reason

    with no exceptions.

    Summarize; One misplaced stone on the beach will change the universe forever.

    • Everything happens for a reason. Yes, as in the take down of humanity. This lady in this video explains the take down very well.

      ‘Laura Aboli Delivers Epic Speech on the Transhumanist PsyOp of ‘Transgenderism’
      ‘https://rumble.com/v3w6xla-must-watch-laura-aboli-delivers-epic-speech-on-the-transhumanist-psyop-of-t.html

  10. If there is no longer an allotment and all must be paid for out of pocket then every one of those families should withdraw from the public school system and home educate privately. The school districts are receiving funding for every one of those students enrolled in home education programs and those programs are supervised by an assigned contact teacher. The allotments go toward education. It is not a free for all and spending must be approved. This is a power, control and money grab by the NEA as so many families opted to educate ar home after the Covid mess. With that said, privately homeschooled students do not receive any public funds.

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