The Home School Court Report
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MAY / JUNE 1997
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Cover Story
The Right to Be Secure
New Developments in the New Trial

Special Features
Leadership Summit

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He Said. . . They Said

World Congress of Families

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Litigation Report

Across the States

Press Clippings

On the other hand: a contrario sensu

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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

Michigan v. Diana Lord

A return to the ranks of home schoolers has not been easy for Diana Lord. Though a veteran home schooler, she recently faced charges of violating the state's compulsory attendance law in Newaygo County. After five years of educating her daughter at home without intervention by government officials, Diana Lord enrolled her daughter in public school for her ninth grade year. Deciding again that it was best to teach her daughter at home, Mrs. Lord withdrew her daughter and resumed home education on December 1, 1996. The school liaison office was not satisfied that Mrs. Lord was providing an acceptable education for her daughter at home and initiated a truancy charge against her.

Home School Legal Defense Association provided the prosecutor with a daily log, as well as a portfolio of the student's work, and the case was dismissed without a hearing.

Timothy and Tina Saltsman v. Campbell, et al.

Two police officers and a social worker in St. Johns, Michigan, threatened to take a mother's children from her 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.

The social worker's list of allegations stated: (1) child pulled out of school May—June 1995 to home school, (2) long periods of time with no teaching, (3) kids can't remember last time they had a lesson, (4) can't remember what is being taught, (5) home is in deplorable condition—poor housekeeping, junk around, no kitchen tables (covered), food in every room, clothes everywhere, house smells musty (dirty clothes). (Note: The oldest Saltsman child is seven, and Mrs. Saltsman had just had a baby four weeks before the coerced entry.)

The social worker pronounced the Saltsman home "not that bad," and scolded Mrs. Saltsman for making a big deal out of nothing—bringing anxiety and tension upon herself and her children.

HSLDA 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. Defendants have answered, alleging that Mrs. Saltsman consented to their entry, or that their entry was justified by exigent circumstances.

All parties filed motions for summary judgment on February 28, 1997. On behalf of the Saltsmans, we asked the court to find, without the necessity of a trial, the social worker and police guilty of violating Mrs. Saltsman's Fourth Amendment rights with their entry. The defendants, on the other hand, asked the court to conclude that Mrs. Saltsman consented or that they are entitled to a dismissal because they did not violate clearly established law. The police believe that they should not be held to the strict requirements of the Fourth Amendment when conducting a child abuse investigation.

The children of S.

The parents of seven children, ages 18—2 appeared before the court in Stark County, Ohio, on allegations of child abuse and neglect. The case arises from allegations of physical and emotional abuse made by the family's 15-year-old son during a period when he had run away from home. This boy was physically abused by his natural father and still suffers tremendous psychological scars. The teenage son has been in complete rebellion against his mother and stepfather for the last year, refusing to participate in the home education process.

The judge ordered educational evaluations of all the school-aged children when the 15-year-old complained to Children's Services that neither he nor his siblings were being properly educated. Despite the family's compliance with Ohio's home school law, the court insisted upon the evaluations. A school psychologist appointed by the court and a psychologist retained by HSLDA concluded that the three younger children (not the rebellious teen) were achieving at substantially below the 23rd percentile required by Ohio law.

A settlement agreement between the family and Children's Services was reached two days prior to trial. All charges of abuse and neglect against the parents were dismissed in exchange for the parents' agreement to work with the school superintendent to form an education remediation plan. The family will operate under remediation for two years, or until the children achieve at the 23rd percentile, whichever comes first.

State of Texas v. Patricia Rogers

Patricia Rogers and her 16-year-old daughter were summoned to the Justice of the Peace court on charges of thwarting the Compulsory Attendance Act. Mrs. Rogers resumed home schooling in January 1997, her health having prevented her from teaching her daughter in the previous three years. In the interim, her daughter attended public school, but had fallen substantially behind her peers. Mrs. Rogers is determined to catch her up at home.

Because home schools operate as private schools in the state of Texas, the school principal dismissed the charges when we provided her notice, in writing, of Mrs. Rogers' intent to teach her daughter at home.