Across the States
Homeschooling Father Receives Armed Escort
Amidst preparations for their upcoming move to Arizona in three days, a Michigan Home School Legal Defense Association member family heard a knock at their door. A social worker wanted to enter their home and talk with Nick and Vicki Pantele’s two children separately.*
Knowing his 4th Amendment right to privacy, Mr. Pantele refused to let the social worker in and immediately called HSLDA. After explaining the situation to HSLDA Senior Counsel Christopher Klicka, the concerned father handed the phone to the social worker. Klicka outlined the family's constitutional rights, clarifying that although Mr. Pantele wanted to cooperate, he could not allow the social worker into his home.
Klicka explained further that, because of a law HSLDA helped pass in Michigan, all social workers are required to be trained in their duty to protect the constitutional and statutory rights of the individuals they investigate. He added that state law also requires social workers to inform families of the allegations against them at the initial contact. The social worker revealed the allegations, which included sexual abuse, and the parents responded emphatically that the charges were completely false.
The Panteles believed that a family member had actually turned them in to Children’s Protective Services (CPS) and was using CPS to hurt the family.
The social worker called for police support. Within minutes, not one, not two, but five squad cars pulled up to the house and five armed police officers came to the door. Mr. Pantele handed the phone to the police officer in charge. Over the phone, Klicka explained that the allegations were false, but the officer insisted he had to see the children.
Finally, Mr. Pantele agreed to let the officers see the children, who were with their grandmother at the time. After Klicka had emphasized to the police officers that they could see the children, but could not enter the home or interview the children alone or in any great detail, Mr. Pantele drove across town to the grandmother's house, escorted by the five police cars and a government social worker vehicle.
They arrived only to find that the children were now visiting their uncle. Once again, Mr. Pantele drove across town with his “armed escort”-while the taxpayers footed the bill!
At the uncle's home, Klicka counseled Mr. Pantele to have his two children come out and greet the police officers. The father then stepped out of earshot while the uncle remained as a witness. Klicka insisted that only the police officer, not the social worker, talk with the children, since the officer understood the family’s 4th Amendment rights that were at stake. Within a few minutes the police officers were satisfied that the allegations of child abuse were unfounded, and the social worker left, stating that she would close the case.
We praise God for delivering this innocent family from a difficult situation.
— by Christopher J. Klicka
* See "HSLDA social services contact policy" on page 24.