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CPS Investigation Follows Young Neighbor’s Threat

When a Home School Legal Defense Association member family in Onondaga County tried to protect their children from bad influences, simply making the right choice may have led to an investigation by social services.

It all began when a teenage neighbor knocked on the door of Mr. and Mrs. Beacher asking for their 13-year-old daughter, Sarah (names changed to protect privacy). While Sarah knew the girl from when she used to attend public school, she and her parents decided the friendship should not be continued as the girl was a known troublemaker and had even had a previous encounter with the police.

When Mr. Beacher told the young neighbor that Sarah would not come out and was not interested in hanging out with her, the girl cussed him out and told him he would be sorry. Just a few days later, child protective services (CPS) contacted the family.* The caseworker informed the family that they were being investigated for not allowing their children out of the home. The caseworker was also concerned that they were homeschooling.

Knowing they needed help, the Beachers immediately called HSLDA.

Staff attorney Thomas Schmidt advised the Beachers to verify they were in compliance with New York law, to refer CPS to him if there were additional questions about their homeschool program, and to mention to CPS the young neighbor’s earlier threats.

After talking with the family and seeing the children, the caseworker said that she would drop the investigation if Mr. and Mrs. Beacher participated in a family intervention program and possibly took parenting classes. Knowing they had done nothing wrong, Mr. and Mrs. Beacher declined to participate in the program.

After the visit, Schmidt contacted the CPS caseworker and argued that this investigation was outrageous and should be closed. Sixty days later, CPS closed the case as unfounded.

—by Thomas J. Schmidt

* See “HSLDA social services contact policy.”