February 19, 2003

Arkansas Family’s Right to Privacy Threatened by Investigation

Home School Legal Defense Association is defending a member family’s right to privacy from the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS).

Following up on a complaint filed with DHS describing unsanitary conditions and children who were not attending public school, social workers first visited the Hudson’s (name changed) Pine Bluff home on the morning of January 10, 2003. Despite the fact that no one was at home, one of the social workers went around to investigate the backyard and peer into the kitchen window before leaving.

Upon their return later that day, Mrs. Hudson allowed them to come into the front room, where they saw and spoke with the children. Mrs. Hudson did not, however, allow the social workers to investigate the house further or to interrogate the children outside of her presence.

The family, who is legally homeschooling, called HSLDA. We advised them to send DHS proof that the children were being legally homeschooled. They also submitted an affidavit from a respected community juvenile worker who testified that their home did not present any health or safety risks.

In spite of this, on January 17, the juvenile court granted DHS’s petition for an order to force the Hudson family to allow the social workers into the home and to seize the children for interviews. HSLDA immediately filed to stay the order until a hearing could determine the justification for such a move. After the juvenile court judge recused himself, a district court judge granted our motion to stay the order.

HSLDA will defend the family in a hearing on February 20, 2003.