The Home School Court Report
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P E N D I N G   C A S E S


DeSantis v. Mulvane
Filed: 3/2/00, Central District of California.

Nature of Case: Social workers insisted upon entry to investigate allegations of abuse. Mrs. DeSantis told them that they did “not have her consent to enter, but the gate was open.” The social workers then pushed through the gate, marched into the house, strip-searched the two younger children, and subjected the 6 year old to a traumatizing private interview. The DeSantis family is suing the social workers for violating their civil rights.

Status: Status conference scheduled for 10/19/00.

Harrahill v. City of Monrovia
Filed: 4/28/97, Los Angeles County.

Nature of Case: Five families challenged the constitutionality of the city’s daytime curfew ordinance and obtained a ruling in their favor on 1/27/99.

Ruling: The California Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and remanded the case to the trial court for a ruling on the amended daytime curfew ordinance. Because the amended ordinance was in effect at the time the trial judge entered a judgment against the original ordinance, the amended ordinance should have been ruled upon.

Status: Defendants have until 9/20/00 to respond to our requests for production. Status conference scheduled for 10/17/00 and oral arguments scheduled for 12/13/00.

District of Columbia

New v. Perry
Filed: 1/16/96 (writ of habeas corpus), District of Columbia.

Nature of Case: Ordered to put on a United Nations uniform and to become part of a UN force, a United States soldier refused to do so, citing the unconstitutionality of U.S. soldiers donning the uniform of and fighting for a foreign government. The soldier was court-martialed.

Ruling: On 11/25/97, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his request to hear the case in federal court, requiring New to first exhaust his military appeals. The Supreme Court denied certiorari.

Status: On appeal in military courts.


Stone v. Ankeny School District
Filed: 5/19/00, IA Board of Ed

Nature of Case: A dual enrolled home school student, the Stones' daughter, has been denied funds for community college courses-money that is available to public school students and accredited nonpublic school students who are dual enrolled. State law provides dual enrolled students with access to all educational benefits available in the district, but a seven-year-old ruling of the Iowa Department of Education concludes that the state legislature could not have intended to include dual enrolled students in the college course benefit because it might cost too much. The interpretation of a statute is not to be based upon a cost analysis. Represented by HSLDA, the Stones appealed this policy to the Iowa Board of Education. The board now must decide whether a dual enrolled student is eligible for the Post Secondary Enrollment Options funding. It is undisputed that Meggan was dual enrolled and attending both home and public school.

Status: Decision by state board pending.


In the interest of J.B.
Filed: 12/6/99, St. Louis County, MO

Nature of Case: St. Louis County Protective Services brought a petition alleging educational neglect regarding an 8 year old. The child has severe developmental problems, including not speaking in complete sentences. Even though the parents are in compliance with the home school statute for 1999-2000, their failure to log 1000 hours for 1998-99 resulted in a finding of neglect. Educational psychologist Steven DuVall testified on behalf of the family that their current program is superior what is customarily taught in the public schools and it is meeting the special needs of the child, but the court was not interested. The fact that there were not 1000 hours of instruction in 1998-99 could not be overcome.

Ruling: The Court held that the family failed to meet the 1000-hour requirement and ordered the autistic 8 year old to be tested.

Status: Appeal filed. Trial court to set a dispositional hearing.


Hooks v. Clark County School District
Filed: 1/9/98, District of Nevada.

Nature of Case: Home schooled child denied special education services despite federal law requiring provision of such services to “all students.” Family sued to obtain services.

Ruling: On 10/23/98, a federal district court judge ruled that home school students in Nevada are not entitled to such services. The case is on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Status: On 4/12/00, Mike Farris appeared before a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit to urge the reversal of the district court dismissal. Decision is pending.

Note: The Nevada legislature recently changed its law to specifically allow home school students to receive special education services. Now the only issue before the court is whether the school district was under an obligation to provide services under federal law before the state statute was amended.

New Jersey

Forstrom v. Fair Lawn School District
Filed: 2/5/98, Bergen County.

Nature of Case: The Forstrom’s son was denied special education services despite federal law requiring provision of such services to “all students.” Family sued to obtain services.

Ruling: On 10/29/99, the court ruled in favor of the Forstroms, ordering the child to benefit from both state and federal funding.

Status: School district and NJ State Department of Education appealed; they were granted until 6/30/00 to file their brief.

North Carolina

In the Matter of S
Filed: 9/15/99, Cleveland County.

Nature of Case: Around 7 a.m., a 2 year old escaped the house sans clothes. Her brother quickly brought her back inside, but within two hours social workers arrived. The parents refused to allow them entry or private interviews with the children. The Cleveland County Department of Social Services filed a petition alleging "interference with a child abuse investigation."

Ruling: The judge ruled that social workers are not “state actors,” a child neglect investigation is not a “search,” and the Fourth Amendment did not provide the parents with a “lawful excuse” to refuse entry.

Status: On appeal to North Carolina Court of Appeals.


Balderson v. Almasian and Richmond County School Board
Filed: 4/6/00.

Nature of Case: Home schooling parents Gerald and Angela Balderson were arrested 3/17/00 after truancy charges were filed against them by Bryan Almasian, assistant principal at Richmond County Elementary School. After HSLDA contacted the local school administrator, the charges were dropped. HSLDA has brought action against Almasian for negligence, gross negligence, malicious prosecution, and violation of the family’s 14th Amendment guarantee of due process of law.

Ruling: On 6/21/00, the court dismissed the negligence, gross negligence, and Due Process Clause causes of action. Only malicious prosecution remains, so we must prove malice (desire to punish for withdrawing from the school or for home schooling).

Status: Discovery has begun. Depositions set for 10/10 and 10/11/00.

West Virginia

Bevins, et al. v. Calhoun County School Board
Filed: 4/11/00

Nature of Case: Four families are seeking a declaratory judgement against three illegal policies pertaining to home education: (1) a certified reviewer of the child’s progress must be employed by the school district; (2) families whose notice is inadequate may be criminally prosecuted, and (3) approval to home educate requires an oral presentation of the curriculum to the school board. HSLDA filed a motion for leave to amend in an effort to get the recent “Home Instruction Guidelines,” which contain numerous regulatory excesses, before the court.

Ruling: 9/6/00, the court listened carefully to a summary of the issues before the court and agreed that our motion for leave to amend should be granted. The court also advised opposing counsel that requiring home school parents to appear before the school board for questioning “is not right.”

Note: Opposing counsel advised by letter that the new guidelines have been revised to remove much of the objectionable language, but the requirement remains that the parents demonstrate how their program satisfies WV instructional goals and objectives.

Status: Argument scheduled for 11/17/00.