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JUNE 1996
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L I T I G A T I O N   R E P O R T

How our Cases are Stacking Up

Robert and Shirley Calabretta v. Jill Floyd, et al.

This federal court civil rights lawsuit arises from the coerced entry by a social worker and a police officer into the Calabretta home to interrogate and physically examine the children. Though Mrs. Calabretta refused the social worker's entry in October 1994, the social worker returned with the police officer 10 days later. The police officer threatened to force entry if Mrs. Calabretta refused to allow them in, so Mrs. Calabretta relented.

Home School Legal Defense Association filed a civil rights lawsuit in February 1995 on behalf of the Calabretta family. The defendants responded to our suit with Motion to Dismiss.

The federal judge denied the Motion to Dismiss, and in his written opinion explained that the Ninth Circuit has been adamant in its demand that absent exigent circumstances a government official must have a warrant before he is authorized to invade a private home. (Exigent circumstances are those that present an immediate danger to the children.)

Both parties have now filed Motions for Summary Judgment with the court, each requesting the court to rule in its favor without the necessity of a jury trial. The defendants renew their claim for qualified immunity on the ground that the law was not clearly established regarding the Fourth Amendment and a child welfare investigation at the time of their entry. The Calabrettas, on the other hand, have asked the court to rule that the defendants' conduct violated the Fourth Amendment and to issue a declaratory judgment ordering the police and social services department to be prohibited from using these illegal practices to gain entry. HSLDA President Michael Farris was in Sacramento to argue the motion on April 1. We expect a decision within 30 days.

Robert and Maria Kennedy v. Aluzri, et. al

A federal judge in Los Angeles has dismissed the social worker, Director of Social Services, and Department of Social Services from this civil rights litigation.

The Kennedy case arises from the coerced entry by two police officers and a social worker into the family's home to investigate allegations of lack of supervision.

The defendants were dismissed on the ground of qualified immunity, which is immunity for an official whose conduct does not violate clearly established law. The case against the police officers and their department remains pending. HSLDA will appeal the dismissal of the social services workers and department to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In the Interest of Jeremiah Billiot, Daniel Billiot, David Billiot, Rachel Billiot

In this investigation for child neglect, ongoing since November of 1995, a social worker with the Louisiana Department of Social Services (DSS) insisted on personal interviews with each of the Billiot children. Although a licensed social worker and a police officer acquainted with the family wrote letters attesting to the excellent parenting of Mr. and Mrs. Billiot, this caseworker continued her assault on the constitutional rights of the Billiots.

On January 3, 1996, the DSS caseworker went to a judge to acquire an order to permit the interviews of these children, completely disregarding our request to be notified if such an order was sought. The order to interview the children was granted and HSLDA immediately filed a Motion to Quash or Set Aside the Court's Order.

The motion was heard in Terrebonne Parish on February 27, 1996. HSLDA President Michael Farris and Vice President Michael Smith were present to argue that the court order violated Louisiana law, as well as the Fourth Amendment's requirement that probable cause exist before a search warrant is justified. We await the court's decision.

Timothy and Tina Saltsman v. Campbell, et al.

Two police officers and a social worker threatened a mother in St. Johns, Michigan, that they would take away her children if she refused to let the officers into her home. "We are going to get in, one way or another," they warned. In the face of those threats, Mrs. Saltsman let them in. Her 7 and 5-year old children hid under a table while an inspection of the premises was made by social services.

The allegations were that were that "her home is a mess, her children cannot remember the last day they home schooled, and there is no kitchen table." The oldest Saltsman child is 7 and Mrs. Saltsman had given birth to a baby just four weeks before the coerced entry.) Her home was almost immediately pronounced "not that bad," and Mrs. Saltsman was scolded by the officials for making a big deal out of nothing and bringing all the anxiety and tension upon herself and her children.

Home School Legal Defense Association has filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the Saltsmans for this violation of their Fourth Amendment right to be safe and secure in their home from unreasonable government intrusion.

In re Gregory and Benjamin K.

The mother of two special needs teenagers is in juvenile court facing charges of educational neglect. It is the county's position that she has not met the educational needs of her sons at home and should be required to accept the services of the public schools. It is ironic to point out that the Individual Education Plans (IEP) for the boys provide for mainstreaming, with very little special education.

We will demonstrate to the court, based on educational research, that the uncertified parent at home can get comparable, if not better, academic results from her children than the certified teacher in the special education classroom.

In re Regina F.

Following the delivery of a baby and poor attendance at public school, this 16-year old daughter was withdrawn and enrolled in Gateway Baptist School. Regina F. was found guilty of truancy by the juvenile court and is to return to court on May 24, 1996, with evidence of her home school progress. The truancy charge was in connection with Regina's public school attendance, but it appears that her mother's right to teach her at home is now in jeopardy. HSLDA will be representing Regina at the May 24 hearing, at which we plan to present proof concerning Regina's program of instruction.