The Home School Court Report
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May / June 2005

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Parents defeat spurious claims

Sometimes just opening your front door can throw your life into turmoil.

The Martin* family received a visit at their home in suburban Atlanta by a social worker, who said she was investigating a claim against them of excessive physical discipline and educational neglect.*

The parents immediately called Home School Legal Defense Association. Although HSLDA's main switchboard had closed for the day at 5:00 p.m., the emergency answering service paged Staff Attorney Scott Woodruff, who immediately returned the family's call. Asking the Martins to hand the phone to the social worker, Woodruff learned that the social worker did not know who the reporter of the tip was. With the family's permission, Woodruff allowed the social worker to briefly view all the children through the doorway but did not agree to the social worker's demand to privately question them. The social worker threatened to take the family to court.

After the social worker left, Woodruff advised the Martins to take their children to a doctor immediately to be examined for any signs of physical abuse.

The Martins' doctor examined and questioned the children. He found nothing indicating inappropriate physical discipline. In the doctor's writeup, he also noted that the family was properly registered to homeschool.

The family faxed the doctor's report to the social worker, and Woodruff wrote a letter stating that the doctor's report fully exonerated them. He invited the social worker to contact the local school superintendent if she wanted to confirm that the family had filed the required homeschool declaration of intent.

A few days later, the social worker wrote to the family that she was closing their case because there was no evidence that the children were being mistreated.

—by Scott A. Woodruff

* Name changed to protect family's privacy.

See "HSLDA social services contact policy".