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VOLUME XIII, NUMBER 4
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JULY / AUGUST 1997
Cover
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Cover Story
Curfew Battle in Monrovia

Special Features
Kennedy Settlement

Homeschooler Wins Spelling Bee

A Life Abandoned to Christ - The Story of Jeff Ethell

Regular Features
National Center Reports

Litigation Report

Across the States

Press Clippings

On the other hand: a contrario sensu

President’s Page

L I T I G A T I O N   R E P O R T

How Our Cases Are Stacking Up

CALIFORNIA
Andrew and Vicki Taylor v. O'Keefe, et al.

Sheriff's deputies and a social worker gained entry to the Taylor home in Canyon Country, California, and then interrogated the four children (ages 11 and under) with sexual innuendo and detail the children had never before imagined. Mr. and Mrs. Taylor permitted the officials to enter only after they threatened to "return with a warrant and then you will have no choice." The officials acknowledged before entering the home that they believed the allegations to be false, similar allegations having been investigated the day before against Mrs. Taylor's brother. Both reports to social services had been made by Mrs. Taylor's father, who is mentally unstable and under a temporary restraining order to stay away from the Taylor family. Home School Legal Defense Association has filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of this family for violation of their Fourth Amendment rights.

KANSAS
In the Interest of Amanda M.
In the Interest of Mary S.

A county attorney has finally elected to dismiss two "child in need of care" cases which have been pending for over a year in Allen County, Kansas. Both cases involve 15-year-old girls who are being homeschooled for the first time. Prior to the dismissal, HSLDA provided the county attorney with copies of the families' state registration, as well as the students' partial transcript from their curriculum provider, Christian Liberty Academy.

LOUISIANA
Russell & Wendy Billiot v. DSS

A Louisiana statute permits the court to order entry into the home and interview of children in connection with a social services investigation based upon an affidavit establishing "reasonable suspicion." In an effort to investigate allegations that Mr. and Mrs. Billiot inadequately supervised their children (the eldest is a 13-year-old daughter), the Louisiana Department of Social Services (DSS) insisted on personal interviews with each of the Billiot children. Mr. and Mrs. Billiot provided numerous witnesses to their excellent parenting, but would not permit their children to be interviewed. So DSS obtained a court order to question the children.

For nearly two years, HSLDA, on behalf of the Billiots, has been appealing to Louisiana courts to set aside the order to interview because it is based on an unconstitutional statute. The trial judge and Louisiana Court of Appeals have refused to reverse the order. An appeal to the Supreme Court of Louisiana will ask the court to hold that the statute authorizing the order to interview violates the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that search and seizure warrants may only be granted upon a showing of "probable cause."

OKLAHOMA
Lynn Stephen (now Martin) v. Mark Stephen

The Oklahoma Supreme Court issued a ruling on April 22, 1997, upholding a custodial parent's right to direct the education of her children. Earlier, the trial court had ruled that Mrs. Martin could retain custody on the condition that she place her sons in traditional school even though the evidence at trial established that both of her sons, ages 12 and 7, were performing beyond grade level. Her attorney, William Graves, filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma. HSLDA filed an amicus curiae brief on her behalf.

In a concurring opinion joined by four other justices, Justice Simms wrote that "the right of the custodial parent to determine and control the education of her child is well settled. In the absence of a specific provision in the divorce decree or an agreement between the parents, the sole decision power over significant decisions affecting the child's welfare, including education, resides in the custodial parent." Justice Simms reinforced the rights of all parents when he stated, "It is a matter of unquestioned constitutional principle that in the absence of jeopardy to the health and safety of children, the government may not interfere with fundamental parental rights and interests in directing education and the religious upbringing of their children." Lynn Martin may now resume the excellent home instruction of her sons.

VERMONT
Vermont Dept. of Ed. v. Clifton & Susanne Muller

Because of their sincerely held religious convictions, Clifton and Susanne Muller have refused to file a written enrollment notice with the Commissioner of Education concerning their home study program. Under Vermont law, the homeschoolers are required to file a written enrollment notice, and the Commissioner is to send back an acknowledgment of compliance.

The Mullers find this requirement repugnant to their God-given authority to direct the education and religious upbringing of their children. The department of education contends that the failure to file a written enrollment notice is in direct violation of Vermont's truancy law. The Mullers want to resolve this situation amicably, yet they cannot yield their religious objection to state supervision of their program.