June 3, 2002
CPS Harasses Family Whose House Burns Down

The Bartlett* family in Texas had recently suffered a major fire in their house and were living in two apartments side by side. But if the present crisis they were in was not difficult enough, an anonymous tipster turned their family over to the Harris County Child Protective Services (CPS) in Houston.

The family received a letter from CPS that demanded they contact CPS immediately. When the father called, the social worker refused to give the allegations, but insisted that she needed to enter their apartments and interview the children separately with no other party present.

When the family contacted Home School Legal Defense Association, the HSLDA attorney was finally able to obtain the allegations, which included physical abuse and lack of supervision. HSLDA also discovered that the tip was anonymous, which gave the social worker no probable cause to get a warrant.

The attorney told the social worker that she could not enter the home nor interview the children separately. After weeks of going back and forth, the supervisor of the CPS worker finally instructed her to simply meet with the parents and look at the children from afar at their doorstep.

HSLDA backed up the family's legal position by sending CPS a detailed letter and memo describing the Fourth Amendment rights of the family while assuring CPS of the legitimacy of the family's home school program.

HSLDA is expecting this case to be finally resolved soon.

*Family's name changed to protect their privacy.