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New York

January 12, 2006

Sloppy Records by District Leads to CPS Report

Mr. and Mrs. Butler (not their real names) where surprised to receive a visit from Erie County Child Protective Services (CPS) just before Christmas. After knocking at the door, the CPS caseworker declared that they were under investigation for educational neglect and demanded entry into the home. Unsure what to do, the family let the social worker into the home and permitted her to interview their 8-year-old child in another room.

After the CPS worker claimed they had not reported to homeschool, Mrs. Butler showed her their notice of intent and Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP). The caseworker left but insisted that the family was required to "register" with the state and that they had not done so.

Unsure what to do, Mr. and Mrs. Butler contacted Home School Legal Defense Association for help. Staff Attorney Thomas Schmidt contacted the CPS caseworker and informed her that the Butler family was in compliance with the law and explained what was actually required. For a summary of New York law please go to http://www.hslda.org/laws/default.asp?State=NY.

It became apparent that the report of educational neglect against Mr. and Mrs. Butler was made by their local public school district. Mrs. Butler had submitted the notice of intent by July 1. The IHIP had been submitted by August 15. However, in October the school district contacted the Butlers and said they had never received the IHIP or notice of intent.

Mr. and Mrs. Butler submitted everything a second time and heard nothing more from the school district until the visit from CPS. After speaking with the Butlers it appears the school district lost both the original documents and the copies sent by Mrs. Butler. In spite of their failures, the school district reported the Butler family for educational neglect. HSLDA believes this behavior by the school district is inexcusable and will aggressively defend any homeschool family put in a similar situation.

Through HSLDA's quick intervention, the allegation of educational neglect against the Butlers has been resolved. We will continue to ensure that the school district understands and complies with the law. Please remember that if you contacted by CPS at your door you can contact us as an HSLDA member and we will help you, often talking to the social worker right there at the door.