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The Brunnelle Story

 After moving to Lynn, Massachusetts in 1993, Michael and Virginia Brunnelle decided not to enroll their five children in the public schools, opting to educate them at home instead. The Brunnelles' credentials for home schooling are impeccable. Mrs. Brunnelle is a certified elementary school teacher while Mr. Brunnelle has a Master's degree in Christian education. Although Lynn public school officials approved the Brunnelles' qualifications as teachers and the contents of the curricula and the instructional materials, they still would not allow the Brunnelles to home school their children unless they allowed school officials to conduct periodic inspections of their home "to verify that the Home Instruction Plan is being implemented."

The Brunnelles strongly objected to the school system's claim that it had the right to intrude on their familial privacy. They filed a suit against the Lynn Public Schools charging that the home inspection regulation violated state constitutional guarantees against unreasonable searches. The Superintendent of the Lynn Public Schools argued that the home visit regulation was essential to make sure that the parents were providing necessary instructional space, the proper instructional materials and were following a set schedule.

In 1995, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court overturned the home visit regulation as an improper attempt to apply the institutional standards governing public schools to the non-institutional environment of a family home. The court, for instance, said the need for a formal schedule was unnecessary because the intimate relationship between the parent and child permits closer monitoring than would be possible in a public school classroom. On the school system's need to insure the availability of instructional space, the court stated: "We doubt that parents like the plaintiffs, who are so committed to home education that they are willing to forgo the public schools, and devote substantial time and energy to teaching their children, will let the children's progress suffer for lack of adequate instructional space." Finally, the court held that the home visit requirement was improper because it raised issues of unwarranted government intrusion on familial privacy.
Source: Home School Legal Defense Association