March 15, 2004

HSLDA’s Emergency Appeal Denied By Pennsylvania Supreme Court

In a situation very similar to the Stumbo case in North Carolina, an over-zealous social worker in Pennsylvania is causing serious legal problems for the Gauthiers, an HSLDA member family.

In mid-February, Mr. and Mrs. Gauthier took their infant daughter Isis to the hospital because she was listless and had a slight fever. Apparently because they did not immediately follow the doctor’s recommendation, the parents were reported to social services for possible medical neglect. While their daughter was lying in ICU, several social workers interrogated both parents at the hospital.

After Mr. and Mrs. Gauthier returned home with their now-healthy daughter, a social worker demanded entry to their home to “complete her investigation.” Since the family had already talked to several social workers, and they knew that the doctors had also talked to social services, they called HSLDA for advice.

HSLDA faxed a letter to the social worker, stating that she already had more than enough information to close the case, and that a home visit had nothing to do with whether medical neglect had occurred.

In a surprise move, the social worker petitioned the local court on March 4 for an order to search the Gauthiers’ home. The petition did not allege that the child was at any risk of harm, nor did it state any reason for the home visit except to “complete the investigation.” Neither the Gauthiers nor HSLDA had any notice of this petition; the first that the family knew of it was when they received a copy of the court order in the mail March 8 stating that they had to allow the social worker into their home within 10 days.

On March 9, HSLDA petitioned the judge who had signed the order for a delay until we had an opportunity to present the family’s constitutional rights in a hearing, but the delay was denied. Even though there is no reason for the social worker to enter the home, the judge stated that the social worker was required by law to make a home visit. In addition, the social worker now claims that she has to make the home visit to check for the presence of pneumonia.

Following several emergency appeals on March 15 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied our motion. As it stands now the Gauthier’s will have to submit to an unconstitutional home visit. HSLDA is still pursuing the appeals process and is considering other remedies.

Please pray for the protection of the Gauthier family.

 Other Resources

Memorandum in Support of Emergency Motion for Stay Pending Appeal to the Superior Court   (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)