OFTP is working toward better protection of the rights of home-based educators through discussions with the ministry. Here is a letter from OFTP to the Minister of Education, John Snobelen, dated February 12, 1997.
Dear Mr. Snobelen:
Families practicing home-based education, whose children constitute approximately one percent of the school-age population in this province, save Ontario taxpayers more than $100 million dollars annually, by conservative estimate. In place of the expected positive feedback from the Ministry of Education and school board officials, many of these families receive repeated attacks and pointed threats. While there are many examples of this harassment, this letter will highlight just two of the most blatant ones.
The first case is the policy memo, propagated by the Ministry and put into practice by school boards, which attempts to require that home educating families jump through a number of invasive hoops that are not required by law, including home visits and the oral questioning of children without their parents' presence. In some cases, school boards attempt to require that parents provide such ludicrous information as the types of television shows their children watch. No public school or private school families are subject to these invasive procedures, nor could they conceivably be required by law, as any law which attempted to demand such things would be subject to such ridicule that it would be speedily revoked. Nevertheless, Ministry and school board officials attempt to convince home educating families that they are legally required to submit to these outrageous demands.
We must also point out that when families do attempt to obtain information about home-based education from the Ministry, they are often given the impression by the Provincial Chief Attendance Counsellor, that home-based education is neither legal nor much practiced in Ontario. Some have even been told out-and-out lies; for instance, that attendance counsellors have the legal right to enter their homes without their permission. This is not only ridiculously incorrect, but a violation of civil rights, and we hold the Provincial School Attendance Counsellor both responsible and culpable for this outright deceit. OFTP has documented examples of the allegations made here.