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April 19, 2006
Making Progress with DSS

A year ago, we wrote about a situation in which a family was turned in to the Department of Social Services. In that case, the family notified the school district of their intent to homeschool, and the school district reported neglect.

DSS investigated the allegations and ruled that they were "founded," which means officials felt there was enough evidence to support claims of child abuse or neglect. Such a ruling doesn't necessarily mean that charges will be filed, but it is recorded on a registry and DSS can take further action.

At that point, the district approved the family's educational plan, and Home School Legal Defense Association appealed the finding that child neglect was founded.

We waited 30 months for a hearing on the appeal. After the hearing it only took 48 hours for DSS to reverse their finding. They did not even wait for the ruling of the hearing officer.

In an eerily similar case in Cambridge, the Monahan family (not their real name) recently was confronted by a DSS official who demanded entry into the home. HSLDA refused, citing the previous case.

DSS called HSLDA to discuss the situation, and we responded by requesting an internal review of the matter. It appears the DSS has learned its lesson from last year! DSS has closed the case, explaining to the family, "We have received notification that your son is currently enrolled in home-based schooling."

The willingness of freedom-loving families to stand up for their right to homeschool is paying off. The Department of Social Services has taken a huge step towards recognizing the right of parents to educate their children at home!

 Other Resources

Heath Case, April 2005: Is Unapproved Home Education 'Neglect?

Monahan Case, January 2006: Is Homeschooling Neglect?