Fifteen years ago home schooling in Texas was clearly legal as a result of the Texas Supreme Court ruling in the Leeper decision. That decision clarified that home schools were private schools and therefore ended the prosecution of home schoolers that began in the 1980s for violation of the compulsory attendance laws.
However, following the Leeper decision, there was still discrimination against home school graduates by colleges and universities. Virtually every institution of higher education in Texas refused to acknowledge a home school graduate as a high school graduate and either required them to obtain a GED and/or meet higher SAT/ACT scores and other admission standards not required of public high school graduates.
After three attempts THSC was able to get the legislature to amend the Texas Education Code (TEC) to require state colleges and universities to treat graduates of unaccredited private schools, which included home schools, as equivalent to public high school graduates for college admission. The legislature took this action because of a lack of data showing a correlation between accredited schools and student performance. Our argument was that we did not oppose an institution of higher education setting whatever standard they wished for admission, but to say that a student who did not graduate from an accredited school was not a high school graduate was arbitrary and discriminatory.
THSC has often quoted this particular section of the Texas Education Code to assert that the state of Texas acknowledges that not only are home school graduates high school graduates, but that they are equivalent to a public high school graduate.
In January our office was contacted by an Austin home school mother whose son had been offered a job at Seton Hospital. After the offer of employment was made, he was then contacted by Seton officials who asked him to give proof that he was indeed a high school graduate. We responded with a letter quoting the TEC, clarifying that the state of Texas considered a home school graduate a high school graduate.
The official next contacted our office and spoke to two staff members who both clearly explained the issue to her. She responded that since they were a hospital, they must use a federal standard. Our staff explained that the federal government also accepts Texas home school graduates as high school graduates, which she also rejected. She stated that Seton’s policy was that a home school graduate was only considered a high school graduate if they received their diploma from an “accredited entity.”
We further explained to her that this student had been accepted by Austin Community College as a high school graduate and had completed three semesters of college work there. In her conversation with the mother, she was rude, condescending, and unprofessional and finally told this mom that if her son wanted a job at Seton, he should get a GED.
This Seton official told us that laws related to college admission did not apply and Seton was free to use whatever definition of high school graduate they chose in their hiring standards and they would continue to do so. Their position is that they do hire home school graduates, but only if they “graduate from an accredited entity.”
I wrote a follow-up letter to the official and copied the president of Seton Hospital as well. Read the letter.
While Seton can legally continue the discriminatory standard they have chosen, the arbitrary nature of this policy and the rude, condescending, and unprofessional nature of their handling of this situation causes one to wonder if this is indicative of the service and compassion they render to those whom they serve.
Calls to the president’s office can be made to 512-324-1991. Texas home schoolers should call and express their disappointment that Seton would treat a potential employee and his family in such a rude, unprofessional manner and urge them to adopt a hiring policy toward home schoolers that is more reflective of the 21st Century.