March 5, 2002

HSLDA Prevents Police Officers and Social Worker from Traumatizing Family

A Home School Legal Defense Association member family from Joplin, Missouri avoided an intrusive social services investigation due to their preparedness and presence of mind.

While she was going about her daily routine, Mrs. Anderson (name changed to protect the family's privacy) heard a knock at her door early one morning late last January. When the home schooling mom of seven answered, she was surprised to see three police officers (two uniformed police and one detective) and a social worker standing on her doorstep. Two squad cars and two other government vehicles were parked in front of her house. Mrs. Anderson was terrified.

The assembled group told Mrs. Anderson that she had been accused of abusing her children and demanded that she let them into the house to interview each of the children separately.

Mrs. Anderson had the presence of mind to immediately call HSLDA and spoke with Attorney Chris Klicka. Mr. Klicka had her obtain the cell phone number of the social worker since the Andersons did not have a cordless phone to hand out the door. After speaking with the social worker, Mr. Klicka learned she was not only concerned about the children's home schooling, but the allegations stated that the children were often tied up and gagged, food was withheld and the mother hit them repeatedly.

After talking further with Mrs. Anderson, it was clear the accusations against the family were baseless and the result of a disgruntled relative.

Mr. Klicka explained the limits on the powers of government officials, telling the social that if she did not have the parent's permission, she could not enter the home without a warrant. Yet the social worker insisted that the allegations were severe and she needed to investigate. So Mr. Klicka offered a compromise. The Andersons' could provide her references of individuals in the community who would vouch for the good parenting of this family. They would take their children to a doctor to obtain an objective report that the children were in good health. The Anderson's would present the information to social services at a later meeting. The social worker accepted the offer and left, along with the three police officers, realizing that she could not legally gain entry to the house.

The worst was over; HSLDA's goal of preventing entrance to the house was achieved.

In preparation for their future meeting to show their references, Mr. Klicka explained to Mr. and Mrs. Anderson that they should make sure they stick to discussion of the specific allegations and not allow themselves to be dragged into other issues. In HSLDA's experience, social workers sometimes go on "fishing expeditions" into a family's irrelevant personal information. If a family is firm, however, they can limit the interview to the allegations.

At the mutually agreed time, the family met with the social worker at a neutral location. After reviewing the information submitted by the Andersons, the social worker admitted that the case was unsubstantiated. We are thankful that the family was not forced to allow the social worker or police officers to traumatize their children.

"After home schooling for 13 years, I never thought this would happen to me," said Mrs. Anderson. She expressed thanks for the immediate help at her time of need.

HSLDA applauds this dedicated mother for her courage to take a stand to protect her family from the unwanted intrusion.