A high school graduate’s aspiring career as a nurse nearly ended before it began when a hospital in Detroit, Mich., told her that the homeschool diploma she provided was unacceptable.
Mercy Stevenson, who graduated with a high school diploma in 2012, was reportedly the victim of diploma discrimination for the sole reason that she was homeschooled — even though her education records were a clear testimony to her academic excellence.
Fighting for Stevenson’s equal opportunity to become a nurse, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) maintains that there was no logical or legal reason why the Detroit Medical Center could be justified in turning the homeschool grad down.
“Mercy Stevenson enrolled in a university nursing program on the strength of her homeschool transcript, which included two years of community college,” HSLDA reports. “She excelled in her studies, becoming an honors student, and was offered a job this summer as a nurse extern at the Detroit Medical Center.”
No conventional diploma, no job
The rationalization given by the medical center for not accepting Stevenson into their summer nurse extern program essentially made the statement that homeschoolers not participating in a verified co-op are precluded from landing the job — an explanation that did not settle well with the former homeschooler and her parents.
“Despite Mercy’s excellent academic record, the medical center’s recruiter informed Mercy that only a diploma from the state of Michigan or from a verified homeschool co-op would suffice to prove her high school graduation and enable her to start work,” HSLDA Staff Attorney Mike Donnelly explained. “Given a rapidly looming deadline and the recruiter’s obstinacy, Mercy’s parents knew it was time [to seek legal advice on the matter].”
Experiencing the same difficulty from the Detroit Medical Center that Stevenson underwent, HSLDA’s attorneys were told by the recruiter that she would not receive any documentation that was not personally delivered to her over the matter.
As a result, Donnelly immediately wrote a detailed letter to the recruiter because Stevenson was scheduled to meet with her the following day. He promptly overnighted the letter to Stevenson in order for her to be able to hand-deliver it to her recruiter when showing up for their meeting.
In Donnelly’s letter, he readily explained the Michigan state homeschool law and made it clear how Stevenson exceeded the requirements for the position.
“[Mercy had already provided documentation to demonstrate her completion of] far more than a high school education,” Donnelly pointed out to the recruiter in the letter.
HSLDA soon reported that its explanation of the matter was well received by the medical center.
“The recruiter, after meeting with Mercy and receiving her diploma, her transcripts and HSLDA’s letter, acknowledged Mercy’s high school graduation,” the nonprofit Christian legal group announced. “Mercy started her job a week later.”
The mother of Mercy, Jennifer Stevenson, initially thought years ago that she would never be in need of legal assistance regarding homeschooling her daughter because she lives in a part of the country where homeschooling is relatively common.
“Michigan has few regulations and we live in an area with a huge community of homeschoolers,” the homeschool mom shared. “It never crossed my mind that we would have problems with an employer, especially after the kids were in college.”
The home educator is certain that the Detroit Medical Center would not have budged if she did not have the assistance of an experienced team of legal experts at her and her daughter’s side.
“[Without legal representation] the DMC would have rescinded their offer and Mercy would be looking for a new job!” Jennifer Stevenson insisted.
Attorneys at the pro-family Virginia-based legal group warn that even though most colleges and employers across the United States welcome homeschooled graduates, there are still a handful of academic institutions, organizations and companies that harbor bias and ignorance, resulting in discrimination against those with parent-issued diplomas.