L I T I G A T I O N R E P O R T
Mr. & Mrs. Raymond Monasmith v. City of Dixon, et al.
Robin Monasmith was at home with her four children-ages 13, 11, 10, and 8-at about three o'clock in the afternoon when three officers from the Dixon Police Department knocked on her door. The officials explained that they were investigating an allegation that her children were not in school and requested permission to enter the house. When Mrs. Monasmith asked if they had a warrant, an officer replied, "We don't need one." The officers then entered the house in spite of the mother's protests and instructed her to answer their questions. Refusing to permit Mrs. Monasmith to call her husband, a detective grilled her with questions like "How long have you home schooled?", "Do you have food in the refrigerator?", and "How much do you spend per month on food?"
After questioning Mrs. Monasmith, the detective moved to the rear of the house to interrogate the children. When Mrs. Monasmith attempted to follow, she was deterred. Each child was then questioned regarding discipline, home education, and their hobbies. All of the children were fearful that their mother would be arrested or that they would be taken away, and the youngest child was crying throughout the ordeal.
Finding no evidence of educational neglect, the officials left, informing Mrs. Monasmith that they would return in a few days to follow up. Although they never returned, the children and Mrs. Monasmith were paralyzed with fear over the next few weeks every time the phone rang or door bell sounded.
HSLDA is in the process of filing a civil rights lawsuit against these officers on behalf of the Monasmith family, alleging violation of their Fourth Amendment right to be safe and secure in their home against government intrusion without a warrant issued upon probable cause.
Gallagher v. Southington Public Schools and Board of Education Services for the Blind
Kaitlyn Gallagher is a blind nine-year-old student being educated at home by her parents. Prior to the 1997-98 school year, she attended public school and received substantial special education-related services. Kaitlyn was provided with important equipment to facilitate her education, as well as braille instruction and necessary supplies. But once Kaitlyn's parents elected to educate her at home, the school district and BESB refused to provide services.
HSLDA filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal district court alleging that the refusal to provide special education services to a home educated student like Kaitlyn was discrimination and a violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Now, six months after filing a federal court lawsuit, the case has been tentatively settled on the condition that BESB provide the equipment, materials, and services previously determined to be necessary for Kaitlyn's education.
State v. Karen Gullett
This mother, who withdrew her two middle school children from the public school to begin home schooling in 1998-99, is being prosecuted by the Colonial School District near Wilmington. Although Mrs. Gullett's children are enrolled in a private school recognized by the department of education, she sent her initial enrollment application to the wrong address. Therefore, when the school district called to verify her enrollment, the school replied that Mrs. Gullett was not registered. Now that the clerical error has been discovered and the Gulletts are enrolled, HSLDA is trying to obtain a dismissal before trial.
New Jersey v. Latonya M.
Essex County prosecuted Mrs. M. for violation of state compulsory attendance law when she decided in October to home school her son. Mrs. M. sent the school district a detailed outline of her grade two curriculum, but the school prosecuted her nevertheless. HSLDA represented Mrs. M. at the arraignment and persuaded the school district to dismiss the case upon her signing a form at the school district office to confirm that she was home educating her child.
Scott N. v. Memphis Police Dept.
Fifteen-year-old Scott N. was riding his bicycle on his residential street within a few houses of his own when he was accosted by a Memphis Police Department officer. It was approximately 10:30 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, so presumably the officer believed that Scott should have been attending traditional school. The officer pulled up next to Scott and asked why he was not in school. Scott explained to the officer that he was home schooled. In a disbelieving tone, the officer said "Yeah, well, we'll see about that. Get in the backseat."
After Scott obediently entered the car, he asked what he had done wrong. The officer said that Scott was "skippin' school." When the youth exclaimed, "But I'm home schooled," the officer stated, "Maybe you is, maybe you ain't. It don't matter. You still breaking the law."
The officer proceeded to escort Scott to the school without even allowing the boy to notify his parents of his whereabouts. At the school, he was mocked, harassed, and told "home schooling should be illegal." When Mr. N. was finally notified and came to pick up his son, he also was made an object of ridicule by the attendance and police officers. A school board resolution supposedly gives police the authority to take truants into custody, but Memphis does not have a daytime curfew preventing school-aged children from being in public.
On behalf of the N. family, HSLDA has advised the mayor and the Memphis Police Department that the family is willing to resolve this matter without a lawsuit if the individual officers will acknowledge their wrongdoing and the Memphis Police Department will implement a policy to protect home school children from being taken into custody.