From the HSLDA E-lert Service:


1/27/2003 4:33:00 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Virginia--Action Needed on Bill to Restore Parents' Due Process Rights

From the HSLDA E-lert Service...

January 27, 2003

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

One of the most frequent problems facing innocent homeschool families
in Virginia is that of social worker investigations based on
anonymous tips.

Virginia House Bill 2831 would significantly help protect all
homeschoolers in Virginia who could be faced with such an
investigation. This bill would protect parents' rights by
reinstating the requirement that a complaint of child abuse or
neglect be "founded" only if there is clear and convincing evidence.
It is scheduled to be heard and voted on in committee tomorrow,
January 28.

We need your phone calls and attendance at this hearing because
social workers will be in full force testifying against this positive


1. Please attend the hearing, scheduled for Tuesday, January 28, 8:30
AM, House Room D in the General Assembly Building at 9th and Broad
St. in Richmond. Other bills will be heard in the same time slot.
Your attendance will show committee members that you support this
bill. This would be an excellent opportunity for you and your family
to see the legislative process at work. I plan to testify against the
bill tomorrow.

2. Phone calls are crucial. Listed below are the members of the House
Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee. Please call as many
committee members as possible. You may use a message such as the

"Please vote for H.B. 2831. It will restore due process protection
for parents who become innocent victims of anonymous tipsters. Make
the 'clear and convincing standard' the law."

Be prepared to explain your convictions about the bill politely and
firmly. (See background information below.) Members of the child
advocacy establishment are lobbying hard against this bill. Now it
is time for your voice to be heard.

Hamilton, Phillip A. (Chair) (804) 698-1093
Purkey, Harry R. (804) 698-1082
Orrock, Robert D., Sr. (804) 698-1054
McDonnell, Robert F. (804) 698-1084
Nixon, Samuel A., Jr. (804) 698-1027
Devolites, Jeannemarie (804) 698-1035
Landes, R. Steven (804) 698-1025
Broman, George E., Jr. (804) 698-1030
O'Bannon, John M., III (804) 698-1073
Welch, John J., III (804) 698-1021
Marrs, Bradley P. (804) 698-1068
Sears, Winsome Earle (804) 698-1090
Hogan, Clarke N. (804) 698-1060
Bell, Robert B. (804) 698-1058
Athey, Clifford L., Jr. (804) 698-1018
Melvin, Kenneth R. (804) 698-1080
Darner, L. Karen (804) 698-1049
Spruill, Lionell, Sr. (804) 698-1077
Moran, Brian J. (804) 698-1077
Watts, Vivian E. (804) 698-1039
Baskerville, Viola O. (804) 698-1071
Keister, W. Benny (804) 698-1006


An anonymous complaint from a neighbor or relative with a grudge can
subject any innocent homeschool parent to an investigation. If
social services decides the complaint is "founded," the parent's name
is placed on a central registry. If the parent ever tries to obtain
employment in a job dealing with children, the prospective employer
can get access to the registry to see if the parent's name is on it.
If it is, it will be the end of that parent's hope for employment in
that field.

Furthermore, after a complaint is "founded," social services may
demand that the parent and family submit to various forms of
intrusive "services." The family may be threatened with court action
or loss of custody of their children if they do not submit to these
services. It is of the utmost importance, therefore, that a
complaint be "founded" only if it is thoroughly justified.

Until 1997, social services was permitted to consider a complaint
"founded" only if there was "clear and convincing evidence" that the
parent had abused or neglected a child. In that year, however, a
regulation was adopted--against overwhelming opposition from citizens-
-lowering the standard to a mere "preponderance of the evidence."

This is a much lower standard of evidence. Flimsy, marginal, weak,
ambiguous, or doubtful cases, which would have been rejected under
the "clear and convincing evidence" standard, can readily pass as
"founded" under the diluted "preponderance of the evidence" standard.

Furthermore, under the watered-down standard, it is vastly more
difficult to reverse an unjust "founded" decision on appeal. The
lower standard significantly erodes procedural safeguards that can
protect parents from the consequences of bogus anonymous complaints.
H.B. 2831 will protect innocent families from the consequences of
groundless accusations.

Please join us in this fight to protect parents' rights in Virginia.

Very truly yours,

Scott A. Woodruff
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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Purcellville, Virginia 20134
Phone: (540) 338-5600
Fax: (540) 338-2733

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