Home School Court Report
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September / October 2004

The Law: A good weapon in the right hands
Third annual essay contest results

Category 1: It took a cow to prove it

Category 2: Wisdom from Grandpa

Doc's digest
Freedom watch
From the heart

To do good and share what you have

From the director

Impact of the fund

Mission statement of HSF
Across the states
Active cases
Around the globe

Announcing HSLDA Japan

Meet Hiro Inaba

Encouraging homeschool moms
Members only

Questions about the new member rates?

HSLDA membership rate increases
About campus
President's page

The angry child


On the other hand: a Contrario Sensu

Prayer & Praise

HSLDA social services contact policy/A plethora of forms

HSLDA legal inquiries




Left behind

The call came on a Saturday evening several weeks ago from a homeschooling family in my practice. They had been travelling several hours from home, and stopped at a store to pick up a few supplies. In the confusion of loading their many children into their 15-passenger van, they failed to realize that one was missing from the lineup. Normally they have "roll call" to ensure that no one gets left behind, but on this occasion roll call was interrupted at the midpoint by some humorous comments from one of the older kids.

Ten minutes after leaving the store they realized . . . one car seat was empty. Hearts pounding, they returned to the store in a panic. There they found not only their 4-year-old child, but the police as well. Thinking everyone would be relieved to see a family reunited, they expressed their heartfelt thanks to all involved and started for the door.

It wasn't to be so easy. It seems that not only the police were summoned, but the Office of Children, Youth and Families (OCYF) was also notified, and the family had to wait for the rest of the "authorities" to arrive. "Abandonment," they were told, "is a serious offense." After a thorough inquisition, they were allowed to leave for home, but were informed that they could expect their local child welfare workers to be knocking at their door the following day.

How would you deal with a scenario such as this? Under these circumstances it would certainly be advisable to contact Home School Legal Defense Association, and if you have a trusting relationship with your family physician, it may be helpful to contact him or her as well.

Because of the excellent rapport we had forged over the years, this family was comfortable calling me for assistance. I requested that they bring their children to my office immediately to document any bruising or other evidence of physical injury. This physician evaluation would hopefully obviate any need for a physical exam by the social worker.

I advised the family to scrutinize their house and surrounding property for anything that might be construed as posing a threat to the well-being of their children. I also offered to be available on the day of the social services visit to answer any questions that might arise regarding the parenting and care of the children.

Finally, I counseled them to never let anything get in the way of roll call again. In my family, we always have roll call before leaving anywhere. The children are not permitted to make a joke of this process by changing voices or using anything other then "here" as a response to their name being called. Why are we so obsessive about this? Well, because we too have left a child behind, and it really is a serious issue.

I suspect you are wondering how this played out? After a week of butterflies, anxious prayer, and meticulous housecleaning (there's always a silver lining!), OCYF did in fact show up. With physical exams and a character reference from their family physician, and legal advice from HSLDA as backup if needed, the family was able to confidently face the social worker. In the end, she complimented the mother and father on the fine job they were doing raising their children!

Bottom line? Have a good relationship with your family physician, and have your HSLDA membership card in your wallet.

About the author

An HSLDA board member since 1997, Dr. Rodger Sayre is a family physician, and his wife Mary is a registered nurse. They live in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, and teach their 11 children at home. Dr. Sayre received his medical degree from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and maintains board certification in Family Practice. A Geisinger Medical Group associate with a busy practice in Nicholson, Pennsylvania, he is a member of the Christian Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Sports Medicine.