Across the States
Social Workers and ‘Unapproved’ Homeschoolers
We have good news and bad news from Massachusetts. The good news is that the Commonwealth has finally become a good state for homeschoolers. Home education is a recognized constitutional right in Massachusetts, and the State Supreme Judicial Court has put rules in place to protect it. While it has not been easy for school districts to develop appropriate policies for homeschoolers, thousands of courageous families have worked together to bring the districts into line.
Unfortunately, these new policies don't protect parents when a school official accuses a parent of “educational neglect” for operating without written approval from the school district. Home School Legal Defense Association has repeatedly helped families who sent their homeschool paperwork to the school but then were investigated by social workers while their home education proposal was awaiting final approval. In far too many cases, child protective services workers receive “substantiated” allegations of neglect simply because the school has not “approved” a family’s homeschool plan.
In two cases recently reported in the Court Report, we have been able to help our members get their names off the Massachusetts Central Registry of Child Abuse/Neglect. Our Springfield case (reported in 2005) took more than two years to resolve, while our Cambridge case took several months.
As this article goes to print, a family in Amherst is dealing with exactly the same problem. Without a clearly established precedent to govern such investigations, no one knows how long it will take for this family’s good name to be cleared. Please pray for them and us as we work to uphold the constitutional right to homeschool in Massachusetts.
— by Scott W. Somerville