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Vol. XXV
No. 3
Cover
May/June
2009

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ARIZONA

Federal Lawsuit Moves Toward Trial

Case: Loudermilk Family v. Administration for Children, Youth & Families
Filed: March 2006

compiled by Nicholas Bolzman

In 2006, the Loudermilk family was visited by social workers and four sheriff’s deputies who insisted on entering the home based on a six-week-old anonymous tip (see March/April 2007 Court Report). When Mr. and Mrs. Loudermilk exercised their constitutional rights and denied consent to the agents to enter their home, the social workers, backed by the deputies, threatened to take the Loudermilks’ children into custody and place them in foster care. An assistant attorney general repeated this threat to Home School Legal Defense Association Staff Attorney Thomas Schmidt, who was assisting the Loudermilks during the confrontation.

To prevent the removal of their children, Mr. and Mrs. Loudermilk allowed the social workers and sheriff’s deputies inside. Within five minutes, the social workers determined that the anonymous tip was false, and left.

HSLDA filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the Loudermilk family, alleging that the search violated the 4th Amendment and that the unjustified threat to remove the children was a separate constitutional violation of the family’s 14th Amendment right to privacy and family integrity. Our first victory came on September 27, 2007, when the judge denied the social workers’ and assistant attorney general’s motion to dismiss the claims.

The judge stated, “Defendants persisted in their threats to remove the children if Plaintiff Parents did not consent to the search, stating that [they] could arrest or handcuff the Parents in front of the children. Based on the allegations set forth in the Amended Complaint, viewed in Plaintiff’s favor, no reasonable official would have believed that his or her conduct was authorized by state or constitutional law.” With regard to the assistant attorney general, the court ruled that “Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged that [the attorney] … by ‘threat’ exerted ‘coercive pressure’ on them to allow the search of their home so that their children would not be removed.”

This ruling allowed the case to proceed to trial. Since then, HSLDA Staff Attorney Darren Jones has traveled to Arizona twice to depose the social workers, sheriff’s deputies, and assistant attorney general. The attorney on the other side has also traveled to Northern Virginia to depose Schmidt. This process generated stacks and stacks of paperwork, but it will help to prevent surprises when people begin to take the witness stand. The next step is a motion for summary judgment, in which both sides will try to convince the judge that they should win without the necessity of a trial.

OHIO

Benefits Reinstated

Case: F Family v. Ashland County Department of Job & Family Services
Filed: March 2006

by Nicholas Bolzman

In the March/April 2009 Court Report, we reported on a wrongful denial of benefits by the Ashland County Department of Job and Family Services. Mrs. Frank (name changed to protect privacy) works during the day to support herself and homeschools in the evenings. Since the Department of Job and Family Services provides assistance to low-income families to assist with childcare when the children are not in school, Mrs. Frank was using the benefits to pay for a babysitter while she worked. However, because she was not following the same school hours as the public school system, the department reduced Mrs. Frank’s benefits. This decision was upheld by the hearing officer assigned to the case.

At the time of our March/April writing, we had assisted Mrs. Frank in filing an appeal of the hearing officer’s decision. We can now report that the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Administrative Appeal Section reversed the decision, writing: “It is equally valid to read ‘outside of school hours’ as outside of the hours that the child is attending school. Given that the children in this case are homeschooled around their mother’s work schedule, the mother’s work hours would not be included in the child’s school hours, regardless of whether those hours fall into the 8:00 to 3:00 time frame.” The decision concluded, “This interpretation allows the appellant to continue and preserve her employment which is the primary purpose of the publicly funded child care program.”

This outcome restores full benefits to Mrs. Frank, enabling her to continue working and homeschooling.

Pending Cases

AL B Family v. Social Security Administration

AL D Family v. Social Security Administration

CA M Family v. County of San Bernardino

KS T Family v. Social Security Administration

ND Stutsman County Social Services v. C Family

TN C Family v. Dept. of Children’s Services

WA H Family v. Social Security Administration

Pennsylvania RFPA Cases

Combs v. Homer-Center School District
Hankin v. Bristol Township School District
Nelson v. Titusville Area School District
Newborn v. Franklin Regional School District
Prevish v. Norwin School District
Weber v. Dubois Area School District


About the author

Nicholas Bolzman is a litigation assistant at HSLDA.