Home School Court Report
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VOLUME XI, NUMBER 2
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1995
Cover
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Cover Story
The Parental Rights Act: Establishing a Standard of Liberty

Special Features
Homeschoolers Help with 100 Days' Salute


Homeschoolers Plan Strategy

Features
National Center Reports

Litigation Report

Across the States

President’s Page

L I T I G A T I O N   R E P O R T

How Our Cases Are Stacking Up

GEORGIA

Debbie Gaskin v. Toledo Hatcher and J. Michael Moore

ARKANSAS

Mr. and Mrs. Rudolph Jones, Jr. v. Arkansas Department of Education

This Arkansas family home schools five children who are required by Arkansas law to take an annual standardized test. Mr. Jones was injured on the job several years ago, and the family has been living on AFDC and Food Stamps since August of '94. Though Mr. Jones is working again, the family cannot pay the requisite testing fee of $35.00 per child. A lawsuit contesting the constitutionality of the testing fee statute has been filed on their behalf. The Jones family contends that the statute violates their fundamental right to direct the education of their children, their Free Exercise of Religion, and the Equal Protection of Laws guaranteed to them by the Constitution.

FLORIDA

State of Florida v. Ann M. Keckler

Due to a member family's refusal to sign an affidavit verifying that they had never been named as a perpetrator in a confirmed report of abuse or neglect of a child, home schooling mother Ann M. Keckler has been charged with a crime. The case is pending in Putnam County court and alleges that Mrs. Keckler is guilty of a misdemeanor in that she "refuses or fails to have a child under her control to attend school regularly." We are working with the school board attorney and the prosecutor to get a dismissal of those charges. If a dismissal cannot be gained, the case will probably be set for hearing in late May, 1995.

GEORGIA

State of Georgia v. Debbie Gaskin

When Debbie Gaskin withdrew her five-year-old daughter from kindergarten in Effingham County in order to teach her at home, little did she know what a storm of protest would follow. First, the local school superintendent refused to provide her with the "Declaration of Intent" form that is to be provided to the State of Georgia Department of Education. Approximately ten days after removing her child from the school system, she received an attendance notice from an attendance officer stating that Mrs. Gaskin had violated the Georgia compulsory attendance law. On that same day, still less than two weeks after her decision to home school her daughter, she hand-delivered the "Declaration of Intent" form, which she was able to get through a friend from another county, to the superintendent. A copy was also delivered on the same date to the principal at her daughter's elementary school.

Nevertheless, in spite of Ms. Gaskin's complete compliance with state law pertaining to home education, the sheriff's department arrived at her home at 11 p.m. on February 3, 1995, handcuffed her, and arrested her for violation of Georgia's compulsory attendance law. Mrs. Gaskin was fingerprinted, photographed, and required to post bond.

Before Ms. Gaskin's first court appearance, the school superintendent and prosecutor elected to dismiss the charges. We are now counseling with Mrs. Gaskin concerning her legal rights for this violation of her civil rights and malicious prosecution by the school superintendent.

IOWA

State of Iowa v. Paul Dorr

Criminal charges that were filed against Paul Dorr more than a year ago will finally be dismissed. The charges resulted from Mr. Dorr's refusal to sign the state's "Competent Private Instruction Report," a document which Mr. Dorr could not sign in good conscience. It seemed to Mr. Dorr that the document was a means of seeking "approval" from the state to teach his children at home, which Mr. Dorr thought was a violation of his fundamental rights to religious liberty and to direct the education of his children.

The state's prosecutor has agreed to dismiss the charges in exchange for the Dorrs' promise to submit copies of standardized tests and to enroll their oldest child in a supervising home school program. Mr. Dorr never objected to providing evidence that he and his wife are, in fact, home schooling; his objection was always to the requirement that they seek state approval to do so.

OHIO

Kenneth R. Stuber v. Department of Veteran's Affairs

This Ohio member's disabled veteran's benefits for his daughter were terminated on the child's eighteenth birthday. The federal regulations governing these benefits provides that benefits will continue beyond age 18 if the dependent is pursuing "an approved course of instruction." HSLDA appealed the adjudication officer's denial of benefits on the ground that the veteran's daughter is, in fact, in an approved home school program. Before the appeal was set for hearing, the Department of Veteran's Affairs reversed their decision and awarded the family continuing benefits through June 1995.
In re Family S.

As reported in the last issue of the Court Report, the nine and seven-year-old daughters of this Ohio family were removed from the custody of their parents for four hours of questioning. A report of child neglect had been made to the social services office, but the specifics of the allegations were not disclosed to the member family, nor was their consent obtained prior to the removal of the children. The social services department has elected to dismiss the charges of neglect based on psychological reports on the children and mother which were provided to them. The S family is currently counseling with HSLDA concerning the violation of their civil rights by the warrantless removal of their children.

TENNESSEE

Laura S. v. Donald S.

As reported in the last issue of the Court Report, in connection with a motion to modify a final decree of divorce, a Tennessee chancellor ordered our client to have her six-year-old home school daughter tested every three months. We petitioned the court on behalf of the member to alter or amend his order, and were granted a hearing on January 30, 1995. Following oral argument, the judge agreed to slightly relax his previous decision by ordering that the child be tested approximately every six months, rather than three months as previously ruled.

TEXAS

Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (TDPRS) v. Shara Still, Laurie Still, and Leah Still

Following a report in Tyler, TX, of child abuse and neglect, TDPRS attempted to interview the minor children of the family outside the presence of their parents and to inspect the residential premises. The entire family met with the social worker at her office, at which time the worker would not disclose the charges. When the parents would not permit interrogation of their children, TDPRS went to court. Without notice to the family, TDPRS obtained a court order permitting them to interview the children, inspect the premises, and submit to physical examination from a TDPRS physician.

HSLDA promptly filed a motion to vacate or modify the court order and obtained an immediate hearing. The judge agreed to stay the order until a full evidentiary hearing could be held. In the meantime, TDPRS agreed to dismiss their petition alleging neglect and abuse, based upon their receipt of medical reports from the children's pediatrician evidencing their good health. The children were never questioned in any form by TDPRS.