Illinois Homeschool Law Leaves Kids Vulnerable

Estimated read time 4 min read

In Illinois, the relaxed nature of homeschooling regulations has exposed many children to the danger of abuse and neglect. This issue is highlighted by the experience of L.J., a 9-year-old from central Illinois. His situation brings attention to the larger problem of unsupervised homeschooling in this state, resulting in children slipping through gaps in both education and child protection systems.

The Experience of L.J.

L.J., at 9 years old, was withdrawn from school attendance. His parents insisted on homeschooling him, but it took two years for anyone to become aware that he was not being educated. As a result, L.J suffered physical abuse and starvation during this period.

Child safety officers removed him, his infant brother, and sister from their home in Charleston, Illinois on L.J.’s 11th birthday in December 2022. While his mother pleaded for her children to remain with her, his mother’s boyfriend cruelly expressed his intention to be rid of him.

L.J hadn’t attended school for several years according to police records. After being kept away from school due to the pandemic, he was about commence repeating third grade when his parents chose to homeschool him in August 2021. Consequently, L.J. became confined within a small single bedroom apartment without access to teachers or peers where he faced physical punishment and withholding food.

Absence of Supervision

Illinois is one of few states that have almost no regulation surrounding homeschooling arrangements. Parents do not need academia confirmation such as a high school diploma or GED nor are they required provide proof of teaching methods or educational outcomes achieved by their child. Even though Illinois law stipulates homeschooled children should receive an education equivalent to public school standards, there is no method to enforce this. Therefore, officials acknowledge that this lax legislation enables some parents to completely overlook their child’s education. These children lose the safety networks of schools including protection against child abuse and neglect.

Record of Homeschooling

Since the emergence of the pandemic, approximately 127,000 students have ceased enrollment in public schools across Illinois. Data shows decline in private school enrolment as well, challenging assumptions that majority are moving children to such institutions adding concern around inadequate supervision for those taught at home.


Neglected Education and Abuse

Evidence of educational negligence is growing amongst homeschooled children. However, a lack of unified mechanisms for investigation present difficulties for educational boards when parents fail to provide proper education despite claiming to homeschool.

The mandate of regional education offices covers truant identification and reintegration into schooling but once parents declare intention to homeschool their children, they can no longer intervene. Even when reports rise regarding neglectful education which DCFS can’t investigate due to un-avoided issues on schooling matters then has them forwarded onto regional office.


A Widening Concern

A second case involving Zion Staples underscores the potential harm unsupervised homeschooling can cause. Despite previous investigations about abuse and neglect around his family he nevertheless disappeared for several months, & with his death later discovered by police. Zion died due to accidental firearm discharge & his mother concealed it for seven months capitalizing on him being homeschooled.

Illinois lawmakers have looked at proposals strengthening oversight in home schooling including parents informing local districts about intentions in home teaching or DCFS inspection at all homeschools. However, strong resistance from home schooling supporters especially religions-based orgs has blocked these movements.


The situations of L.J. and Zion Staples spotlight the immediate urgency for stricter homeschooling guidelines in Illinois. Without regulation, children can be susceptible to abuse, and neglect shielded away from education and social workers who could safeguard their wellbeing. Thus, changing the homeschooling laws in Illinois should be prioritized to ensure that all children receive education and protection they should get.

Celina Brooks

Celina Brooks from Mussoorie is a Writer & Researcher. She earned her Engineering degree in IT from Rutgers University. She is a technology enthusiast but loves writing and talking about local news as well. She is a jolly person with 2 children.

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