A History of Homeschooling in Michigan

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A History of Homeschooling in Michigan


In 1984, Information Network of Christian Homes (INCH) was founded by Dennis and Roxanne Smith, as the first Christian state homeschooling organization in Michigan. They hosted their first homeschooling conference and began homeschooling advocacy work.

The DeJonge Case

On September 20, 1984, Ottawa County contacted homeschooling parents Mark & Christine DeJonge to inform them they were illegally homeschooling their two young children. The DeJonges were not certified teachers and therefore were deemed in violation of the state’s compulsory attendance law.

On March 28, 1985, truancy charges were filed against the DeJonges. They were convicted of violating Michigan's certification requirement for home schooling. On April 23, 1985, warrants were issued for their arrests, with charges of criminal truancy. The DeJonges contacted HSLDA who retained Michigan attorney David Kallman to defend them.

Kallman introduced test scores from the DeJonge’s children, demonstrating they both scored above the 90th percentile, but the evidence was not permitted. The DeJonges were convicted and sentenced to two years’ probation, fined $200, and ordered to find certified instruction or choose public schooling. Christopher Klicka of HSLDA got a stay of sentence and appealed the case to a higher court.

The Bennett Case

John and Sandra Bennett were homeschooling their four children, but in 1986 they were charged with four counts of truancy during the 1985-86 school year because they were not certified teachers. The Bennetts were found guilty by the 35th District Court and fined $50 for each count. Their children were enrolled in Clonlara School (a Catholic private school in Ann Arbor, founded by Pat Montgomery).

David Kallman’s Workload Increases

On June 7, 1986, David Kallman won the Haines, Smolls, and Gibson vs. Runkel case where parents were originally charged with truancy, but all charges were dropped!

School districts soon started sending letters to homeschoolers, asking if they were certified (to get them to admit their own guilt). HSLDA told people not to respond and used stalling tactics with school boards to avoid ending up in court.

The DeJonge Case Continues

Even as late as August 9, 1989, the DeJonge case was still winding its way through the courts. The Court of Appeals affirmed ruling against the DeJonges, but HSLDA appealed the case to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Persecution against Homeschoolers Escalates

Between 1985-1993, over 500 homeschooling families were threatened annually with prosecution. In those days, truancy officers often carried guns which made for scary home visit situations!

In December 1991, four HSLDA families were threatened with arrest. In January 1992, Farris and Klicka of HSLDA filed a civil rights case (Arnett vs. Middleton) and sued the prosecutor, the superintendent, and the school district for violating homeschoolers’ civil rights! They quickly backed off!

The DeJonge Case Decided

On November 10, 1992, Farris argued People vs. DeJonge before the Michigan Supreme Court. The same day, Farris, Klicka and Kallman argued People v. Bennett regarding religious exemption from Compulsory Attendance. Two days later, Clonlara v. State Board of Ed. was argued in Michigan Supreme Court.

On May 25, 1993, Clonlara was decided by a 4-3 vote in the Michigan Supreme Court removing the teacher certification requirement. Finally, after nearly a decade in court, the DeJonge’s previous legal convictions were reversed.

God Answers Prayer

The initial state Supreme Court decision was 4-3 against the DeJonges; however, the day before the decision was published, Justice Levin surprisingly told Chief Justice Cavanaugh he wanted to change his vote. He didn’t know why, but he wanted to change his vote. There had been prayer meetings all over the state for these court cases and it was clear that, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Prov. 21:1, NKJV).

MiCHN’s New Legacy Begins

In 2010, Dennis and Roxanne Smith retired from their leadership role with INCH, and Michael and Kim Winter (homeschooling parents of ten and co-op leaders in Lansing) began leading the organization with their team of volunteers. In 2019, INCH was rebranded as Michigan Christian Homeschool Network (MiCHN) and became a 501-c-3 non-profit organization. You can learn more about MiCHN at www.HomeschoolMichigan.org.


Israel Wayne is a homeschooled graduate and homeschooling father of eleven. He and his wife are founders of Family Renewal, LLC and serve on the leadership team for Michigan Christian Homeschool Network.


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Legislative Update: 12/05/23😃
MiCHN Condemns State Representative Koleszar’s Attempt to Blame Michigan Homeschool Families for State’s Failure to Protect Foster Kids Lansing, MI  The Michigan Christian Homeschool Network today condemned a social media post from State Representative Matt Koleszar (D-22nd District) that called for increased regulations of homeschool families following an unrelated case of abuse within the foster care system of Michigan. In response, Michigan Christian Homeschool Network (MICHN) Vice-President Israel Wayne issued the following statement: “MiCHN is unequivocally opposed to any and all abuse of children, and believe those who abuse children should be prosecuted by the adequate child abuse laws that already exist in our state. Instead of exploiting a false political narrative about home education to make headlines, Representative Koleszar’s time would be better spent focusing on improving Michigan’s struggling public school system, focusing his attention on the real problems that plague the state’s Child Protective Services and the abuse of children in union-backed schools." “We have fought long and hard in both the courts and the legislature to secure our current Michigan homeschool laws, and today we reiterate our position that we will resist, to the fullest measure, any efforts to restrict the homeschool freedoms that families have enjoyed since 1993. Homeschool families should not be burdened with additional regulations because of a few bad parents who break the law and abuse their children.” The Michigan Christian Homeschool Network (MICHN) was founded in 1984 to advance homeschool freedom in the state of Michigan so that it can be a place for families to freely pass on their values and faith, training their children through home-based, parent-directed, privately-funded home education.   We have more research and information HERE. Read MiCHN's Statement on Abuse and Child Protection Policy. Homeschooling and Abuse. Child Abuse and Neglect of the Homeschooled Versus the Conventionally Schooled: Groundbreaking Study. One child fatality is one too many.
National Homeschool Day of Prayer 2023
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