By Barry Peters (2012)

They're like a SWAT team for Idaho homeschoolers. Waiting in the wings, they are available at a moment's notice to step in and analyze and strategize with respect to looming threats to home education. Then they present their collective wisdom to the board of the Idaho Coalition of Home Educators (ICHE).

They are both offensive and defensive players, working to defuse threats and also planning and pursuing strategies to increase and defend our tremendous homeschooling liberties here in Idaho.

Who are they? They are the ICHE Crack Legal Team, a volunteer brigade of attorneys here in Idaho. Though you may not know who they are, their collective fingerprints can be found on many of the most significant strides that have been made toward homeschooling freedom here in Idaho.

Our best-in-the-nation, homeschool-friendly statute passed in 2009? They wrote it.

The reversal of the Pocatello-Chubbock School District's anti-dual enrollment policy adopted last year? They were there to strategize with and support Scott Woodruff and HSLDA in formulating an effective and successful opposition.

The drafting and implementation of the fair and balanced Guidelines adopted by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare for the investigation of educational neglect? Once again, the Crack Legal Team was there in 2010 to make it happen.

The successful behind the scenes opposition to annual efforts by liberal politicians to lower the age of compulsory education in Idaho and the plans to create public preschools for students from birth to age eighteen? Once again, the Team was on the job.

So why is this group of big-hearted volunteers so important to ICHE? Because of the very nature of the ICHE Mission: To protect the right to home educate within the state of Idaho.

The pursuit of this mission is rooted in both the courts and the legislature. Due to their training and experience in these settings, attorneys are particularly helpful in both of these arenas.

In some ways, it is no surprise that Idaho home educators have greater freedoms than those of any other state. Idaho is the only state in the country that has its own team of volunteer local attorneys standing by to keep those liberties safe from assaults of all types.

This team works very closely with - and relies heavily upon the accumulated wisdom of - Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) based in Virginia. Over the last two decades, the Crack Legal Team has regularly conferred with HSLDA's Chris Klicka, Scott Woodruff, and Mike Smith as threats have arisen and campaigns have been planned and executed.

Though the members of the Crack Legal Team have varied over the years, here are the current (2012) members:

Heather Conder who works in private practice in Boise.
Christian D. Brown and Rudy Patrick who are in private practice together in Meridian.
Ian Gee is a sole practitioner in Garden Valley
Peter Dill is a part time attorney and part time organic dairy farmer in Emmett
Barry Peters is a sole practitioner in Eagle

As you encounter these faithful servants, please be sure to thank them for all that they do for you to protect your priceless liberties.

Having said all of this, there is one caution that is important to keep in mind. This Team serves for the benefit of all homeschoolers. Its job description does not include the protection and defense of individuals and families that may come under legal assault. For that, a family that is teaching its children at home effectively has just two options.

First, the family can hire a private attorney to provide the necessary defense. Unfortunately, that will almost always be an expensive proposition.

Second, the family can join Home School Legal Defense Association. For member families, HSLDA staff attorneys are available round the clock to deal with inquiries by law enforcement or child protective services personnel. They do so at no charge to the member family. But in order to be defended by HSLDA, it is required that a family have joined before the inquiry begins.

Consequently, ICHE and CHOIS strongly urges all Idaho homeschooling families to join HSLDA immediately at www.HSLDA.org. Just click the "Join" tab at the top of the home page. Then use the CHOIS group discount number (299536) to receive a substantial reduction in the annual cost of membership. It's the best defense you can implement.

Barry Peters is an attorney in private practice with offices in Eagle, Idaho, and is one of the legal advisors for both ICHE and CHOIS. His law practice focuses on the areas of wills, trusts, probate, real estate contracts, and business formations.

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