May 4, 2009

Social Worker Attempts To Monitor Homeschooling

In April of the 2008–2009 school year, a social worker with the Alabama Department of Human Services contacted a Home School Legal Defense Association member family in Roanoke (Randolph County), insisting that she be permitted to monitor the family’s home instruction program. This contact was prompted by the fact that the member family had recently obtained court-ordered custody of two children previously enrolled in public school by their birth mother. The social worker insisted that the children be administered standardized achievement tests to determine whether they were performing at grade level and, in the event they were not, wanted the children to be re-enrolled in public school. If the children had tested to the satisfaction of the social worker, she wanted the parents to provide a report card on the children every six weeks. Both students were enrolled in the home instruction program of a church school in Alabama.

When the member family contacted HSLDA for assistance, Senior Counsel Dewitt Black wrote a letter to the social worker, informing her that state law governing students in church schools does not require standardized testing or the routine submission of report cards to state officials. Black also pointed out that even if testing were to indicate that the children were below grade level, this would be primarily a reflection of the inadequacies of their public school education, not any basis to re-enroll the children in public school. Black stated that since there was no allegation of abuse or neglect of the children, there was no reason for the social worker to be investigating or monitoring the children’s education.

So far, the family has received no further contact from the social worker concerning this unauthorized intrusion into their family life.

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.