Students who were homeschooled before they attended and graduated from college were told that they must first obtain a GED when they applied to become officers in the Ithaca Police Department in New York — even though no such requirement exists for candidates who were traditionally schooled.

Even though both students graduated from local state colleges, officials with the state wouldn’t consider either student as candidates to join the force — simply because their high school diplomas indicate that they were homeschooled. Frustrated by the biased policy against homeschoolers, the aspiring police officers sought legal counsel from the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which was amazed at the blatantly discriminatory policy enforced by the state.

“[A]s a homeschool graduate myself, I’ve seen strange cases of discrimination that I just have to shake my head at,” HSLDA Staff Attorney TJ Schmidt expressed. “This is one such case.”

Schmidt was especially confounded after looking at the outstanding credentials held by each applicant during their collegiate careers.

“One had a bachelor’s degree and the other was a qualified emergency medical technician (EMT),” the legal expert from the Christian legal group informed. “Despite their success in higher education, these graduates were essentially being told to go back to high school.”

One student’s academic training made her the ideal candidate — to all except the Ithaca Police Department (IDP).

“Our first contact was from the homeschool graduate who had earned her undergraduate degree from SUNY Cortland with a major in criminology and a minor in psychology,” Schmidt pointed out. “After she took the civil service exam and scored well, she was told that her homeschooled diploma was not good enough to apply for a police job.”

He went on to note that every homeschooling requirement was met throughout the young woman’s K‒12 education that she received at home.

“Throughout this student’s homeschooling, her family had complied with New York law, reporting as required to local public school officials,” the lawyer from the nonprofit organization based in Purcellville, Virginia, explained. “Nevertheless, the Ithaca police department rejected not only her homeschool diploma, but her college degree as well.”

Repeat offender

It was soon found out that rejecting homeschoolers was no isolated event at the IDP.

Within a short period of time, another HSLDA member family consulted the legal group after the IDP told their daughter that she would not be considered to join its force until she took and passed the GED — refusing to accept her application until her added requirement was met.

“This young woman also had completed a homeschool program under New York law and had received a letter of substantial equivalency from the Ithaca City School District verifying compliance with state law,” Schmidt asserted. “She had been accepted at Finger Lakes Community College and went on to earn her EMT certificate.“

Not by the book …

Once he exhaustively reviewed each of the applying students’ records, the legal expert examined exactly what qualifications were needed to become a police officer in the state of New York.

“State law simply requires that the person 1) be a high school graduate, 2) have a high school equivalency diploma issued by an education department of any of the United States, 3) be a holder of a comparable diploma, or 4) be a holder of a report from the United States armed forces certifying his or her successful completion of the tests of general educational development, high school level,” Schmidt outlined.

As a result of extensively reviewing New York’s legal precepts, the Christian attorney found that the IDP was, in fact, violating the law it is supposed to enforce.

“Our position is that both of these young women, as high school graduates from homeschool programs that were operated in compliance with New York law, are eligible for these positions,” he argues. “The fact that both of them have also completed a college education make the City of Ithaca’s position downright ludicrous.”

HSLDA is still waiting for a response from its letter sent on behalf of the two college graduates to the City of Ithaca and will pursue further legal action if the IDP does not accept the prospective police officers for consideration in its law enforcement program.



Copyright American Family News. Reprinted with permission.

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