L I T I G A T I O N R E P O R T
How Our Cases Are Stacking Up
Makala Racobs v. William Perry, Secretary of Defense
19-year-old Makala Racobs was denied entry into the Navy medical program because she is the product of home education, in spite of the fact that she passed the Navy's entrance examination. Home schoolers are placed in a tier below traditional high school graduates for purposes of military admission. The suit is a civil rights complaint alleging that Ms. Racobs is being unlawfully discriminated against because she is a home schooler.
Family of C. v. Jill Floyd and Nicholas Schwall
This complaint for civil rights violation arises from the forced entry into the C family's home by a social worker and police officer. The defendants claim that there was an anonymous call made about ten days prior to the forced entry in which there was allegation that a child was heard to cry, "No, Daddy, no!" The social worker and police officer give different accounts as to what time the cry was actually heard and as to whether the cry was indoors or outdoors. In any event, when the caseworker and officer gained entrance into the home, the twelve-year-old daughter was separated and interrogated concerning family discipline and religious beliefs, which was then followed by a strip search of the family's three-year-old daughter. No evidence of abuse was found and the case was closed, but the family was left humiliated and outraged. The lawsuit seeks an injunction against the Yolo County Department of Social Services' practice of violating the Fourth Amendment rights of citizens, as well as damages for the family.
State of Iowa v. Paul Dorr
Criminal truancy charges remain pending against Paul Dorr because of his refusal for religious reasons to comply with Iowa's state home school requirements. A new prosecutor appears willing to accommodate Mr. Dorr's religious liberties pursuant to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. The parties are working towards a settlement, by which Mr. Dorr is to demonstrate with standardized test results and curriculum materials that he is, in fact, educating his children.
State v. Michael and Virginia Brunelle
When this member family refused to permit the local school superintendent to visit their home periodically to inspect their home education, the school board refused to recognize their home school. A criminal complaint was then filed against the parents, alleging a failure to send their children to school. Trial is scheduled to begin April 26, 1995.
Patricia Brown v. Patrick Brown
The issue on appeal in this case is whether an 18-year-old, who is being home schooled, is in a "recognized and accredited" high school for purposes of requiring his father to continue to provide child support until he completes his education. The trial court ruled that a home school is not a "recognized and accredited high school," so child support was terminated as of the boy's 18th birthday. We anticipate oral argument in the spring of 1995.
In Re Family of S
Two children, ages 9 and 7, were separated from this member couple by a social worker and sheriff's deputy upon the allegations of abuse from an irate mother-in-law. Our clients initially refused to permit the social worker and officer to enter, but the children were seized from the home of the clients' parents, which happens to be next door. The children were initially interrogated at the home of the grandparents, but were then taken into the custody of social services for a number of hours before being returned to their parents. Not only is there no evidence of abuse on the part of the parents, but the petition itself alleges nothing more than that the children are behind their public school peers academically and that the parents have refused immunize them, neither of which is a violation of Ohio law. Trial is scheduled for March 30, 1995.
State of South Carolina v. Dollie Garlock
On October 21, 1994, Dollie Garlock was summoned to appear in the Family Court of Berkeley County because of a petition filed in court alleging that her daughter had unexcused public school absences from the time public school had started. Mrs. Garlock, who is a single parent, provided documentation to both the public school officials and the Family Court proving that she had been a member of SCAIHS since the day before the public school had begun classes for the 1994-95 school year. Despite this clear and undisputed evidence, the Solicitor's office refused to dismiss the truancy charges brought against Mrs. Garlock's daughter and insisted that Mrs. Garlock appear in court to defend the unwarranted charges.
Home School Legal Defense Association attorneys David Gordon and Dewitt Black traveled to Moncks Corner, South Carolina, the location of the family court, and appeared on behalf of Mrs. Garlock. Also present to provide testimony for Mrs. Garlock and to verify her membership in SCAIHS was Zan P. Tyler, President of SCAIHS. Prior to a formal hearing in which witnesses would have given testimony, the attorneys met with the presiding judge. At the pre-hearing meeting, the truant officer conceded that she had made no attempt to communicate with Mrs. Garlock and to determine why her daughter was not attending public school prior to filing the truancy charges. The judge dismissed the truancy action after hearing the legal positions of those involved.
Laura S. v. Donald S.
In connection with a Motion to Modify a Final Decree of Divorce, a Tennessee chancellor ordered our client to have her six-year old daughter tested every three months for as long as she is being home schooled. We are assisting the member's private counsel and have prepared a memorandum of law accompanied by an affidavit from an expert in the field of standardized testing to request the judge to alter or amend his order. The hearing is scheduled for January 30, 1995.
Lynchburg Department of Social Services (DSS) v. Family N
When the parents of a thirteen-year-old girl refused to admit a social worker into their home to investigate abuse, DSS petitioned family court for an Order to Investigate, which would include inspection of the home and questioning of all members of the family. Home School Legal Defense Association appeared for the family to oppose the petition on the grounds that it was nothing more than unreliable hearsay with no specific acts of abuse alleged.
At a full hearing on the issue, the court required DSS to fully disclose the specific allegations of abuse against the parents, which it did. The court then permitted DSS to interview each family member to investigate the charges. After the social worker's investigation, the charges were determined to be unfounded and the case dismissed. HSLDA had hoped to prevent a DSS inquiry altogether, but the requirement that DSS reveal the specifics of the allegations before entering the home of the family or interrogating family members was a partial victory.