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New York

March 27, 2002
New York Family's Tardy Notification Instigates Social Service Investigation

A Bronx, New York, school district recently turned one home schooling family over to social services when the family failed to file their notification paperwork.

The Richards* family has been home schooling 13 children over the last 12 years. Their home schooling was so successful that five of their children are now in college. Nonetheless, the Richards found themselves faced with a social worker at their door accusing them of educational neglect. Apparently the school district had notified the Bronx Agency for Children's Services that the family had not filed their annual notification at the beginning of this year as they had done for the past last 12 years.

Even though the concern was merely over missing paperwork, the social worker insisted on launching a full-scale investigation and wanted to enter the home and interview the children. When the Richards refused to comply, the social worker said she would come back a few days later to conduct the interviews.

HSLDA immediately contacted the social worker explaining that the Richards were now in compliance-they had filed their paperwork and been approved by the local school district. Nonetheless, the social worker insisted on an unlimited investigation that included interviewing the children about physical and sexual abuse.

HSLDA then contacted the school district to begin the process for a formal withdrawal of the educational neglect complaint. After repeated visits by the social worker to the Richards' home, HSLDA sent a letter to her supervisor at the Bronx Agency for Children's Services insisting that they stop visiting the home and asserting the Richards' Fourth Amendment rights to a secure home.

While this "stand off" was taking place, the family decided to allow the social worker to see the Richards' children in order to simply determine that they were not in danger. The social worker, on notice from HSLDA to not violate the Richards' civil rights, briefly saw the children and left without attempting to complete a full scale investigation. The heavy handed threats by the social workers were averted. The complaint of educational neglect has since been withdrawn.

*Name changed to protect the family's privacy.