The Home School Court Report
VOLUME XI, NUMBER 4
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1995
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How Our Cases Are Stacking Up

GEORGIA

Debbie Gaskin v. Toledo Hatcher and J. Michael Moore

A federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed against an attendance officer and school superintendent who refused to permit Mrs. Gaskin to withdraw her 5-year-old daughter from kindergarten in order to begin home schooling this past January. Mrs. Gaskin filed the appropriate "Declaration of Intent to Home Educate" form with her child's school principal and the superintendent. Nevertheless, seven days following the receipt of the "Declaration," the attendance officer swore out a warrant for Mrs. Gaskin's arrest. Mrs. Gaskin was arrested at her home at 11 p.m., at which time she was handcuffed and marched down her driveway into the headlights of a squad car in front of gawking neighbors. She was photographed, fingerprinted, and booked like a common criminal. The lawsuit seeks damages for a violation of her fundamental right to direct the education of her child, as well as for false arrest and malicious prosecution.

NEW YORK

Schoharie County Department of Social Services v. Family of K

This member family was charged with dependency and neglect in connection with an unusual medical condition of their 13-year-old son. The family did not notify HSLDA concerning the proceeding, because there was no indication that their teaching the child, which began in the fall of 1994, was an issue. However, to their surprise, the judge ruled on April 11, 1995, that the child be enrolled in public school and remain under the supervision of social services for 1 year.

HSLDA filed a Motion to Modify that court order and appeared in court on June 27, 1995. It is our position that there is no substantial evidence to justify the interference with the fundamental right of these parents to educate their child at home. The judge requested briefs from all parties, and is to get another hearing, at which time the merits of the family's home instruction plan will be reviewed by the court.

OHIO

In the Matter of Isaiah and Samuel Carroll

Tim and Kathleen Carroll are a loving Christian couple who have adopted 10 special needs children over the course of their marriage. As a result of the unfortunate death of 4 of these severely handicapped children, the Carrolls have faced criminal prosecution and children's services intervention for the last three years. Though their oldest child, a 19-year-old, is not permitted to live at home, the custody of all of their minor children has been returned to them. The only issue remaining to be decided is whether Mr. and Mrs. Carroll may be permitted to home school a 12-year-old child with cerebral palsy and a 7-year-old child with Down's syndrome.

With television crews and reporters from two newspapers present, Home School Legal Defense Association attorneys Scott Somerville and David Gordon met in Xenia, Ohio, on July 7, 1995, to try the issue of home education for these special needs children. Joe P. Sutton, Ph.D. testified that Mr. and Mrs. Carroll were not only qualified to teach these boys at home, but that they were using the techniques of trained experts as they patiently and carefully instruct the children throughout the day. Dr. Sutton cited numerous studies validating the ability of parents to teach handicapped children at home, including the study by Dr. Steven Duvall comparing five public school learning disabled children with five similar home-schooled learning disabled children. Dr. Duvall's research demonstrates what home-schooling parents already know: public school is no match for the loving, one-on-one instruction of a parent.

Ms. Ellen Dana, Senior Teacher and Special Education Supervisor of the Moore Foundation, was also present to testify concerning her organization's involvement in the Carroll curriculum. Dr. Sutton's and Ms. Dana's testimonies were added to Mrs. Carroll's eloquent presentation of her training, experience, and self-education. It should have been apparent to the court that the Carroll home provides attention and care that cannot possibly be provided by one teacher and an aide with eight special education students, each of whom has a unique disability with unique needs and learning objectives.

In a surprising ruling, the court held that the best interest of the children include public schooling for Isaiah and Samuel. The court explained its decision by saying, "If these children were children without the special problems facing them, the Carrolls would have the constitutional and statutory right to home school them as they are doing with Hosea." This abuse of discretion and violation of the parent's fundamental rights to give their children a Christian education has been appealed to the Ohio Court of Appeals.

KANSAS

In re Care and Protection of Zolene Pilcher

The magistrate judge in last month's cover story concerning a mother's right to teach her daughter at home has ruled that the child is truant and must go back to public school. In spite of the fact that there was no evidence that Mrs. Goodner is not competent to teach her 13-year-old and in spite of substantial evidence that she is competent (including the world's leading authority on the subject, Dr. Brian D. Ray), the judge held that Mrs. Goodner's home school is not a "private school" which satisfies compulsory attendance law in Kansas. We have filed an appeal and pray that a higher judge will protect this family's constitutional right to educate at home.