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West Virginia

April 17, 2012

Animal Abuse Allegations Lead Family to HSLDA


Staff Attorney Mike Donnelly answers questions and assists members regarding legal issues in West Virginia. He and his wife homeschool in the Mountain State. Read more >>

Mrs. Shilo’s (name changed to protect privacy) neighbor threatened to call the authorities and allege child neglect primarily because her son Johnny was supposedly torturing another neighbor’s cat. Johnny was actually on a mission to rescue the cat from a neighborhood dog that had caught the poor animal. Nevertheless, Mrs. Shilo knew that a phone call from her disgruntled neighbor could easily lead to a follow-up investigation by a government caseworker wanting to work through a systematic checklist including a home visit, interviews, etc.

Although Mrs. Shilo had heard about Home School Legal Defense Association, she thought that since she hadn’t had any troubles with her local school district, she didn’t need to be a member even though she homeschools. The real possibility of a negative interaction with the authorities prompted her to become a member.

Mrs. Shilo took advantage of HSLDA’s expedited membership application process, and received a phone call from HSLDA that day to assure her that we would be there for her if needed. She commented that she had no idea how much we do for homeschoolers, advocating for greater homeschooling freedoms internationally, nationally and locally. “I wish I had become a member sooner,” she said.

Even families who are doing everything right can be faced with intimidating social services investigations. It is far too easy for a nosy neighbor or prejudiced passerby to pick up the phone and make allegations that are swiftly followed up on by a social worker’s frightening knock at the door. HSLDA attorneys routinely field calls from member families in the midst of these daunting situations. Membership provides families with access to the steady, confident voice of an experienced legal advocate at the press of a button. The Shilo family decided this peace of mind was well worth supporting HSLDA through membership.

HSLDA Social Services Contact Policy

We desire to advise our members in every contact with a social worker and/or police officer in investigations resulting from allegations of abuse or neglect. If homeschooling is an issue, we will represent our member families until the issue is resolved. On Fourth Amendment unreasonable search and seizure issues, HSLDA will advise our members whenever the privacy of their home is violated by forced or coerced entry for the purpose of an unsubstantiated investigation. HSLDA membership benefits do not extend to court actions resulting from non-homeschooling matters. However, in circumstances where there is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment, HSLDA may, as we have done in the past, choose to take the case in an effort to establish legal precedent.