North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest has issued a press release telling parents who homeschool their children that they have the right under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to refuse warrantless entry into their homes by government officials without probable cause.
Forest issued the friendly reminder because, he says, North Carolina’s Division of Non-Public Education recently indicated its intention to resume inspecting the practices of homeschooling families across the state.
The Republican noted that homeschool inspection was a practice last seen in North Carolina in the 1980s. Back then, fewer than 1,000 students were homeschooled. Now, over 100,000 students have opted for education at home.
According to Raleigh CBS affiliate WRAL, Forest was responding to a new policy by the Division of Non-Public Education’s to visit five homeschooling sites at random this year.
“This policy is intrusive, unnecessary, and has the potential to infringe on the constitutionally-protected privacy rights of tens of thousands of North Carolina homeschool families,” said the lieutenant governor.
“Homeschool families should follow the law relating to the keeping of records and their lawful inspection, but should not be compelled to let any government official into their house. It is not necessary and people should reject it.”
David Mills, the director of North Carolina’s Division of Non-Public Education Director, defended the attempt at warrantless searches, saying the goal “was to cause less inconvenience and give greater credibility to North Carolina homeschoolers.”
In a statement obtained by North Carolinians for Home Education, Mills thickly listed several state laws to explain why he had chosen to attempt to make warrantless intrusions into the homes of homeschooling families.
In the next paragraph, he noted, “I am not an attorney.”
Mills also apologized “for any misconceptions given to any of the many homeschool families in North Carolina.”
By Monday evening, Mills had backed down further.
“No site visits have been conducted and none are planned,” a statement from the Division of Non-Public Education said, according to WRAL. The statement added that the state still requires homeschooling families to keep records such as standardized test results, immunization records and attendance records.
The state can still inspect those records, but not — Mills seems to concede — by way of random intrusion into homes.
Forest noted that the right against warrantless searches is also guaranteed under Article I, Section 20 of North Carolina’s state constitution.