State of Maryland v. Cheryl Battle
This mother of a first grader appeared in criminal court on July 23, 1996, facing charges for violation of the state's compulsory attendance law. The law requires children between the ages of 6 and 16 to attend public school unless otherwise receiving regular, thorough instruction. The State's evidence consisted entirely of proof that Ms. Battles did not register with the school district (as required by the State Board of Education regulations), but it offered no evidence pertaining to the regular, thorough instruction being provided by Ms. Battles. At the conclusion of the state's case, we asked the court to dismiss the charges. The judge took the case under advisement and is expected to render a decision in the first week of October.
Gaskin v. Hatcher, et al.
A civil rights lawsuit pending in Savannah involves a mother who has sued the school superintendent and attendance officer for her false arrest. Mrs. Gaskin was arrested when she refused to return her five-year-old daughter to the public school following her decision to home school the child. She was fingerprinted, photographed, and handcuffed before being released two hours later. The arrest was for violation of the state's compulsory attendance law, but those charges were dropped before Mrs. Gaskin's first court appearance. Now Mrs. Gaskin's suit for damages appears ready for trial in late September 1996.
Children's Services v. Mr. and Mrs. M.
When our member family refused to permit the private interview of their four children, ages 3-13, Children's Services went to court to obtain an Order to Investigate. Because the allegations were anonymous, we challenged the Order to Investigate as unconstitutional. It was agreed at the hearing that the children would be interviewed in private, but the interviews would be recorded and provided to the family if the case was pursued. The case was ruled "unfounded" and dismissed following the interviews.
Dorothy D. v. Mr. and Mrs. I
A maternal grandmother has petitioned a court for custody, alleging educational neglect and physical abuse by the parents. The child was removed from the family on June 11 without a hearing, based on the affidavits of the grandmother and the child. Since that time the family has not been permitted to see or speak with their daughter. Our investigation revealed that the allegations were fabricated, so we have intervened to protect the rights of these parents concerning their own child. The case is set for a custody hearing on August 26, 1996.