Mother Removed from Educational Neglect List
Case: R Family v. Child and Family Services Agency|
by Joshua Kamakawiwoole
When the Reynolds family (name changed to protect privacy) moved to the District of Columbia in August 2009, they decided to start homeschooling for the first time. Mrs. Reynolds contacted the local school district to find out what paperwork she would need to file in order to homeschool, but her call was never returned. After ordering curriculum, she began homeschooling her son.
A few weeks later, a social worker from the Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) showed up at the Reynolds’ home to investigate the child’s absence from school. The social worker told Mrs. Reynolds that she needed to put her son in school and added that he was going to call the state superintendent. After the visit, Mrs. Reynolds called Home School Legal Defense Association for advice, and we explained that she would need to submit a notice of intent to homeschool to the office of the state superintendent of education. Mrs. Reynolds promptly did this, and the investigation was closed. However, Mrs. Reynolds was placed on D.C.’s child abuse registry as having educationally neglected her son.
HSLDA assisted Mrs. Reynolds in appealing the decision. During an informal hearing with a social worker responsible for reviewing the registry listing, HSLDA Litigation Attorney Darren Jones argued that Mrs. Reynolds should not have been included on the registry since failure to file paperwork is not the same as neglecting a child's education. After 15 minutes of discussion, the social worker realized that the CFSA had been in error and stated that she would work on clearing Mrs. Reynolds’ name. On October 18, 2010, HSLDA received word that Mrs. Reynolds had been officially removed from the registry.
Mrs. Reynolds has since moved to Virginia, where her son is dual-enrolled at a local university, and she has experienced no further legal problems.
Truant Officer Threatens Homeschool Family
Case: In re: M Family|
by Joshua Kamakawiwoole
A mother of 10 with 25 years of child rearing under her belt, Mrs. Murdoch (name changed to protect privacy) had never had any legal problems with her homeschool program. But in July 2010, while she was homeschooling her youngest three children, a truant officer visited her.
The truant officer spoke harshly, ordering Mrs. Murdoch to provide him with the names and ages of all the children who lived at home. When she asked the reason for the officer’s visit, he said he was just “trying to do his job.” His visit was followed by a warrant for Mrs. Murdoch to appear in court on truancy charges in two weeks.
Mrs. Murdoch contacted our legal department for help. HSLDA employed the services of local Tennessee attorney Jack Thompson, who promptly contacted the assistant district attorney. Thompson explained that the truant officer’s report was premature and failed to follow the requirements of Tennessee law for truancy cases. In addition, HSLDA explained to the prosecutor how Mrs. Murdoch had complied with Tennessee’s compulsory attendance law by enrolling in a church-related school.
The prosecutor agreed to dismiss the
case before it went to court, and Mrs.
Murdoch has continued homeschooling without further problems.
|About the author
Joshua Kamakawiwoole is HSLDA’s litigation assistant.
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