The Home School Court Report
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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

Makala Racobs v. William Perry, Secretary of Defense

A memorandum is being sent from Naval headquarters in Washington to Navy recruiters around the country encouraging them to "liberally grant waivers to otherwise qualified applicants who have been home schooled." This memorandum is part of a settlement in which the Navy agreed to exercise due diligence to insure that a special screening model is employed to process home schooled applicants. This screening model will permit most home school graduates to enlist in the Navy if they score at the 50th percentile or better on the military entrance examination.

The memorandum also explains to Navy recruiters that the Navy has agreed to track attrition rates (drop-out rates) for home school graduates who enlist in the Navy. In order to have a large enough sample for the study, the Navy is reserving 240 seats (enlistments) per year for home schooled applicants. The 240 reserved seats are not a maximum. A particular recruiting district may enlist as many home school applicants as apply, provided the district has a sufficient number of screening model seats available to it.

The Navy's agreement to track attrition rates for home school graduates who enlist before December 31, 1998, provides an opportunity to open the doors of all branches of military services to home schoolers. The Department of Defense has agreed to review the attrition statistics resulting from this study and compare them with the attrition rates of traditional high schoolers. If those numbers are similar, the Department of Defense will reassess its policy that places home school graduates in a category with GED holders and below traditional high school graduates for enlistment and eligibility purposes. We are encouraging home schoolers who are interested in serving in the armed forces to take hold of this opportunity and demonstrate to the United States Armed Forces that they have the intelligence, loyalty and perseverance required to excel in military service.

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Kennedy v. Aluzri, et al.

Depositions were recently taken in this civil rights lawsuit arising from the coerced entry into the Kennedy home to investigate an anonymous allegation of child neglect. The allegations were that the Kennedy children were left unattended in their backyard for long periods of time, that an infant was left in the backyard in a stroller, and that slapping sounds were heard. Even though Mr. Kennedy presented his three sons at the doorway of his home when the officials arrived, the social worker and officers were not satisfied that the children were not facing immediate threat of harm. The officials entered the house, interviewed the children outside the presence of their parents, inspected the premises, and lifted the shirts of the 7 and 5-year old boys in order to look for signs of physical abuse. Of course, no evidence of abuse was found and no further investigation was made.

HSLDA filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Kennedys alleging that their Fourth Amendment right to be safe and secure in their home was violated by this forced entry. The police officers acknowledged at their depositions that an official may not enter the home of a private citizen without a warrant unless he has consent of the occupant or is faced with exigent circumstances. Exigent circumstances in the context of a child welfare investigation are those circumstances that present an immediate threat of harm to a child. It is the contention of the Covina Police Department that these officers faced exigent circumstances when they demanded entry to the Kennedy home.

The federal district judge in Los Angeles will soon be asked to decide whether these officers violated clearly established law when they entered the Kennedy home without a warrant. Stated another way, the issue is whether a reasonable officer in their position could have believed that these were exigent circumstances justifying a warrantless entry.

Lynn Stephen (now Martin) v. Mark Stephen

The Supreme Court of Oklahoma has agreed to hear the appeal of a judgment by the District Court of Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, in which Mrs. Martin was ordered to send her first and sixth grade sons to traditional school if she wished to retain custody. The boys are now in public school.

HSLDA filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief with the Supreme Court, urging it to reverse the trial court. HSLDA explained that the trial court abused its discretion by making the erroneous presumption that a home school teacher must have "qualifications" in order to be effective. Specifically, the trial judge found "that because of her limited learning, Lynn Martin cannot educate her children properly because she does not have the ability and is unable to home educate the children to a normal level." The facts presented to the court revealed that Mrs. Martin has a high school diploma and some college education. In addition, the standardized testing of her sons demonstrated that the sixth grader scored at the 68th percentile while the first grader scored at the 74th percentile.

The trial court also abused its discretion by presuming that academic performance of the children would be enhanced by sending them to public school. HSLDA cited the recent nationwide study of over 16,000 home school students in all 50 states in grades K-12 demonstrating that home school students are academically superior to public school students. According to standardized test results provided by the Riverside Publishing Company of 16,311 home school students, the nationwide average for home school students is at 77% for the basic battery of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. This means, of course, that the home school students performed better than 77% of the public school students tested, which was the group against whom the test was normed.

It is this kind of judicial prejudice that home schoolers in domestic courts are routinely facing. We are committed to assist your lawyer by providing legal precedent and academic research to rebut the judicial presumption against home schooling.

Timothy and Tina Saltsman v. Campbell, et al.

When two police officers and a social worker threatened to take a mother's children if she would not permit them inside her home, Tina Saltsman opened the door. In response to a lawsuit filed against them alleging violation of the Saltsmans' Fourth Amendment right to be safe and secure in their home, the defendants deny that Mrs. Saltsman was threatened. Instead, they allege that Mrs. Saltsman consented to their entry.