The Home School Court Report
VOLUME XIV, NUMBER 6
- disclaimer -
NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 1998
Cover
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Cover Story
Home Schoolers Win Ban on National Test

Special Features
So You Want to Attend Patrick Henry College

National Center Reports
National ID Regulations on Hold for Year

Defense Authorization Bill of 1998

The Higher Education Amendments of 1998

Gifted Home Schoolers Excel

Across the States
State by State

Regular Features
Press Clippings

Staff News

A Contrario Sensu

Notes to Members

Prayer and Praise

Litigation Report

President’s Page

L  I  T  I  G  A  T  I  O  N     R  E  P  O  R  T
Active Cases
Oklahoma
In the matter of Lorenzo M.
     “Lorenzo M. and his two siblings are the adopted children of Mrs. C., who teaches her children at home. Lorenzo recently ran away from home and told the deputy that he did not want to be home schooled and would probably run away again. So the deputy placed the boy in the temporary custody of the Department of Human Services (DHS), and DHS filed a petition alleging neglect.
     Neither the fact that a child has run away, nor the fact that the child does not desire to be home schooled provide the legal basis to remove custody or to find neglect. HSLDA appeared at an October 13 hearing on behalf of Mrs. C to defend her against these charges, and seek the return of her son's custody. At the close of the state’s proof, the prosecutor asked the judge for permission to amend his petition. The prosecutor had recognized his evidence was inadequate, so he sought other avenues by which to accuse Mrs. C. The hearing will be reconvened to address additional complaints regarding Mrs. C’s parenting.

Texas
State v. Dorcas Hill
     Since electing to home educate her teenage daughter at the beginning of the 1997-98 school year, Dorcas Hill has been prosecuted twice for violation of the state’s compulsory attendance law. When Mrs. Hill was first contacted regarding truancy allegations in October of 1997, Home School Legal Defense Association assured the Dallas Independent School District (ISD) that the Hill family satisfied the requirements set out in Leeper, so the family was not required to appear in court and the charges were dismissed. Then in May of 1998, Mrs. Hill and her daughter were again summoned to appear in court on truancy charges, the Dallas ISD alleging that the child was not receiving the necessary special education.
     HSLDA filed a memorandum and appeared in court on behalf of the family in August 1998. The memorandum outlined the fundamental right of parents to direct the education of their child, and the fact that home schools are private schools, not subject to the regulation of the state department of education. Trial was scheduled for September 15, 1998, but the prosecutor dismissed the case prior to the hearing.

State v. Garza
     A 15-year-old home schooled male was cited for violating the city of Houston’s daytime curfew as he returned to his home after missing a bus to travel downtown with his father. The youth missed the bus because he initially forgot his bus card and returned home to obtain it. When he returned to the bus stop with the card, his father had already boarded the bus and it was gone. The arresting officer was not interested in the boy’s explanation regarding his bus travel with his father or his home education. The case was set for trial on September 24, 1998. Following a meeting with the prosecutor at which the circumstances were explained by HSLDA counsel, the case was dismissed.

State v. Mr. & Mrs. Edward Ortiz
     Seventeen-year-old Laurie Ortiz was floundering in public school. When the 1998_99 school year began, Laurie was classified as a ninth grade student and was highly distracted by the social interaction surrounding her in class. But with the assistance of a neighbor, Mr. and Mrs. Ortiz rescued their daughter from this path toward destruction. The neighbor, Mark Manka, a former teacher of juvenile offenders, is tutoring Laurie in his home while Laurie's mother cares for Mr. Manka’s toddler. Laurie works with Mr. Manka at her side from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. five days a week. She now has a brightness in her eyes that reflects confidence and a joy of learning as she talks about attending college and one day studying French in Paris.
     The San Antonio Independent School District was not satisfied with the Ortiz letter of assurance and demanded more information on the curriculum. When the Ortizes refused, they were prosecuted for thwarting compulsory attendance. On the morning of the hearing, HSLDA persuaded the prosecution that Mr. and Mrs. Ortiz were in full compliance with Texas law, and the case was dismissed.

Michigan
Timothy and Tina Saltsman v.
Dawn Campbell, et al.

     On October 13, 1998, the United States Supreme Court denied Timothy and Tina Saltsman’s petition for a writ of certiorari. Home School Legal Defense Association had filed the petition on August 10, 1998, asking the Court to review the decisions of the United States District Court and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. This leaves the Sixth Circuit decision in place.
     Although this is clearly not the response from the Supreme Court that we had hoped for, it is important to note that both the district court and the circuit court decisions were “unreported decisions.” This means that they are not binding precedent and cannot be used by government lawyers or social workers in any future case.

A History of the Saltsman Case
     HSLDA filed a civil rights suit on behalf of the Saltsmans for violation of their Fourth Amendment right to be safe and secure from government intrusion into their home after two uniformed St. Johns police officers and a social worker coerced entry. The allegation was that the Saltsman home was in “deplorable” condition. Mrs. Saltsman only allowed the officers to enter after they had threatened to “get in one way or another.” They also told Mrs. Saltsman, “If you don’t let us in, we will take your children.” HSLDA attorney David Gordon, listening to this exchange over Mrs. Saltsman’s portable phone, advised her to let the officers in the house, because he “did not think it was worth that risk.”
     After a brief tour of the home and a short interrogation of Mrs. Saltsman concerning her home education, the officials left. The social worker concluded that the anonymous report of child neglect was "unsubstantiated" and filed a report closing the investigation.
     The United States District Court and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the Saltsman’s case on the grounds that Mrs. Saltsman voluntarily consented to the official entry. This decision, however, is completely contrary to existing Fourth Amendment law. A warrantless entry is validated only by consent that is freely and voluntarily given. Consent given under duress, coercion, or trickery does not validate an otherwise illegal entry.

Instructions for HSLDA members

The following guidelines for responding to officials demanding entry into your home are general in nature. No two situations will be exactly alike.

1. Call HSLDA immediately. (If it is after 5:00 p.m. ET, follow the instructions for emergency situations given on the answering machine.)

2. Ask if the official has a search warrant. If he does not have a warrant, you do not have to consent to allow him entrance into your home-unless a police officer asserts he investigating an emergency situation. Where possible, record the conversation-notifying the officials that you are doing so.

3. Don’t volunteer any information to the officials.

4. If the official is accompanied by a police officer and insists on entering your home despite your protests, it is probably better to let them in. But before you do this, please try to get ahold of an HSLDA lawyer. If circumstances do not permit this, then you should say to the officials before they enter, “I am closing my front door but it is unlocked. I will not physically prevent you from entering and I will not physically resist you in any way. But you do not have my permission to enter. If you open my door and enter, you do so without my consent and I will seek legal action for an illegal entry.”

5. Do not lose your temper or yell. Some cases have suggested that an overly angry response gives an officer a reason to suspect child abuse. While HSLDA disputes these cases, a calm response is always wise.