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VOLUME XI, NUMBER 3
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1995
Cover
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Cover Story
Kansas Family Taken to Court; State Awaits Decision

Features
Homeschoolers Participate in National Bees

Congressional Action Program

National Center Reports

Across the States

Press Clippings

Litigation Report

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

FLORIDA

State of Florida v. Anne 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 child abuse or neglect, home-schooling mother Anne 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." The prosecutor has agreed to drop the case from the court calendar pending the opinion of the State Attorney General on the question of the validity of the affidavit requirement.

ARKANSASs

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 1994. Although 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.

CALIFORNIA

Makala Racobs v. William Perry, Secretary of Defense

Nineteen-year-old Makala Racobs was denied entry into the Navy medical program because she is a home school graduate, in spite of the fact that she passed the Navy's entrance examination. With the exception of the Air Force, the armed forces place home schoolers in an enlistment tier beneath traditional high school graduates for purposes of admission. A civil rights lawsuit has been filed alleging that Ms. Racobs is being unlawfully discriminated against because she was home schooled.

The Secretary of Defense has responded to the Complaint with a Motion to Dismiss. He contends that statistical evidence compiled in the last five years demonstrates that home schoolers leave the military before the completion of their duty in greater numbers than traditional high school graduates. We will file countervailing affidavits and argue against the Motion in August 1995.

Family of C. v. Floyd & Schwall

This civil rights lawsuit arises from the forced entry into the C. family's home by a social worker and police officer. The defendants claim they received an anonymous call about ten days prior to the forced entry, reporting 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 child was indoors or outdoors.

When the case worker 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.

Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss, claiming that they had absolute immunity for their actions, all of which were within their discretionary authority. This Motion to Dismiss is set for hearing on July 10, 1995.

MASSACHUSETTS

Brunelle and Pustell v. Lynn Public Schools

When these Massachusetts member families refused to permit the local school superintendent to visit their home periodically to inspect and evaluate their home education process, the local school committee refused to approve their home school. A criminal complaint was filed against the Brunelles when they continued to educate their children at home. The Pustells were given a conditional approval, pending the outcome of the Brunelle litigation.

On May 17, 1995, the morning of trial in Lynn, Massachusetts, the parties agreed to drop the criminal case from the docket. Instead, the question of the home visit requirement will be submitted to a civil court judge for determination. This means that the families will not face criminal charges, and we are more likely to finally resolve the home visit issue in Massachusetts. The complaint for declaratory judgment has been filed in Essex County.

NEW YORK

Schoharie County Department of Social Services v. Family of K.

This member family was charged with dependency and neglect of their thirteen-year-old son. The Department of Social Services convinced the court that the family, in spite of a long history of medical and psychological treatment, had failed to adequately provide for the child's emotional needs. HSLDA became involved in the case when we learned that the family court judge, with no warning or apparent justification, ordered the child to return to public school. We have asked the court to reconsider this ruling on June 27, 1995.

MAINE

Family of M. v. Bath School Department

This Maine member family was receiving services from the local public school for a special needs child. When the family withdrew the child from the public school and enrolled him in a private school, they discontinued all special needs public school services. Nevertheless, the School Department's Complaint Investigator insisted upon an evaluation of the child to ensure that his special needs were being met. Our office wrote to the Complaint Investigator and the State Department of Education explaining that the Bath Public Schools' insistence upon an evaluation of the child was a civil rights violation of the Family of M. The Bath School Department dismissed the case.