|| LEGAL/LEGISLATIVE UPDATES
ACROSS THE STATES
Social Security benefits restored
After her father died, Julie*, a Kansas homeschool student, began receiving survivor's benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). When Julie turned 18, however, the SSA suddenly cut off her benefits, claiming that since she was 18 and not enrolled in school full-time, she was no longer entitled to them. Julie's mother contacted Home School Legal Defense Association.
HSLDA spoke with an SSA representative and filed a request for reconsideration. We explained that Julie was qualified for benefits because she was, in fact, enrolled in and attending a private school full-time. (Homeschools are considered private schools in Kansas.) We reminded the official that Julie's mother had registered the home-based private school with the state board of education.
On our advice, her mother submitted an outline of Julie's school plan for her senior year. After receiving this outline, the SSA restored Julie's benefits.
Children strip-searched by social workers
A Kansas City homeschool mom was surprised to open her front door and find two social workers. They claimed to have received a report that she abused her children, made them work all the time, physically beat them, and never let them play. The social workers insisted on questioning her toddler and first-grader.
Not content with mere questions, the social workers demanded that the mother strip the two youngsters so they could examine them for signs of physical abuse. Reluctantly, she complied. The children were humiliated as their sense of modesty was violated in front of total strangers.
Anxious to clear themselves of all possible accusations, the family also gave the social workers written authorization to obtain private information about the children from their pediatrician.
The family thereafter contacted Home School Legal Defense Association. It became obvious after a review of the facts that there was absolutely no evidence of abuse or neglect. Although we could not undo what had happened, we were able to protect the family from further intrusion into their privacy. We immediately faxed a letter to the social workers and the family pediatrician revoking the authorization to gain access to the children's medical records.
HSLDA has successfully defended families by arguing that the U.S. Constitution recognizes the right of parents to say "no" when a social worker requests entry in order to question and strip-search children without a warrant. We advise our members to call HSLDA promptly if confronted by public officials demanding access to their home.
Scott A. Woodruff
* Name changed to protect family's privacy. See "HSLDA social services contact policy".