Home School Court Report
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No. 4

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Of Laws and Caseworkers

On February 1, 2007, the Nebraska Unicameral Education Committee voted to indefinitely postpone Legislative Bill 101. This measure would have eased administrative burdens on all homeschooling families and significantly helped single parent homeschoolers. LB 101 would have only required one parent's signature on the notification paperwork for Nebraska homeschoolers.

However, it often takes many attempts to pass legislation, and we expect LB 101 to be reintroduced next year. We appreciate Senator Philip Erdman, the bill’s sponsor, and cosponsors Senator Dwite Pedersen and Senator John Harms for their support of homeschoolers in Nebraska.

While homeschooling in Nebraska is protected by law, it can become an issue when caseworkers or social workers get involved.* A recent case involved the Jones family (name changed to protect family’s privacy), who were teaching their two children, ages 6 and 9, at home. Because Mrs. Jones’ mother opposed homeschooling, she contacted social services claiming that Mrs. Jones had a messy house and that the children were not being properly schooled.

Although the Jones family stood on their 4th Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure without probable cause, the social worker was able to get a judge to order a search of the premises. The social worker and police officers determined that the home was messy and that the children should be removed.

At the follow-up hearing with the social workers, the primary issue raised as a reason to keep the children in foster care was not a “messy house,” but the fact that the children were being homeschooled and, according to the social worker and the appointed guardian ad litem, were “two years behind.” Since the younger child had barely reached compulsory attendance age, it was impossible for that child to be “two years behind.” The authorities were clearly predisposed against homeschooling. Home School Legal Defense Association is working with the family and their local counsel to assist them in arriving at a settlement of the issue.

Unfortunately, some Nebraska government authorities are still suspicious of homeschooling and will, when given the least opportunity, try to “rescue” children from being homeschooled.

— by Michael P. Donnelly

* See “HSLDA social services contact policy”