Across the States
Rumor Mill Starts CPS Investigation
When Roberta Landsiedel found a card from the Department of Family Services at her door, she immediately called the Child Protective Services (CPS) worker who had left it. He explained that Roberta had been accused of educational neglect and that he would have to come to the home to investigate.* According to the person who had made the report of neglect, Roberta was supposed to have said that she "didn't have time to educate her children." Roberta, a member of Home School Legal Defense Association, immediately called our office.
The story that unfolded was all too familiar to HSLDA Attorney Scott Somerville. The Landsiedel family had started homeschooling the year before, but found that the curriculum they chose was too intensive for their children. When they finally switched to a new curriculum, they felt it would be better to start over at the beginning of each child's grade rather than jump into the middle of a program. When the mother confided her struggles to a friend at church, the rumor mill started. It ended with allegations of educational neglect and a CPS investigation.
HSLDA promptly contacted the social worker to explain the situation. As a result, the Landsiedels never had to meet with CPS for any formal interviews. Roberta documented that she did, in fact, have time to educate her children, and the case was closed without any adverse consequences to the family.
Wyoming social workers are supposed to protect children from harm, not check up on curriculum choices. The Landsiedel family was in compliance with Wyoming law at all times and should never have had to deal with CPS. Still, homeschoolers must always be prepared to respond to allegations of neglect, even when they know they are not doing anything wrong. HSLDA stands ready to help in such situations.
— by Scott W. Somerville
* See "HSLDA social services contact policy"