Across the States
Social Worker Attempts to Monitor Homeschooling
In April of the 2008–2009 school year, a social worker with the Alabama Department of Human Services contacted a Home School Legal Defense Association member family in Roanoke (Randolph County), insisting that she be permitted to monitor the family’s home instruction program.* This contact was prompted by the fact that the member family had recently obtained court-ordered custody of two children previously enrolled in public school by their birth mother. The social worker insisted that the children be administered standardized achievement tests to determine whether they were performing at grade level and, in the event they were not, wanted the children to be reenrolled in public school. If the children tested to the satisfaction of the social worker, she wanted the parents to provide a report card on the children every six weeks. Both students were enrolled in the home instruction program of a church school in Alabama.
When the member family contacted HSLDA for assistance, Senior Counsel Dewitt Black wrote a letter to the social worker, informing her that state law governing students in church schools does not require standardized testing or the routine submission of report cards to state officials. Black also pointed out that even if testing were to indicate that the children were below grade level, this would be primarily a reflection of the inadequacies of their public school education, not any basis to reenroll the children in public school. Black stated that since there was no allegation of abuse or neglect of the children, there was no reason for the social worker to be investigating or monitoring the children’s education.
As this issue of the Court Report goes to press, the family has received no further contact from the social worker concerning this unauthorized intrusion into their family life.
— by Dewitt T. Black
* * See “HSLDA social services contact policy.”