August 25, 2011

Right to Privacy Protected at Front Door

Mrs. Vroom (name changed to protect privacy) went to answer a knock at the door expecting it was the mailman. To her complete surprise, it was a social worker. She said the Vrooms were under investigation and suspected of abusing their adopted autistic daughter. She wanted to enter the family home immediately and inspect it.

Mrs. Vroom said she first wanted to find out what her rights were. Now agitated, the social worker said she would come back with the police. Members of HSLDA, the family called for guidance.

While Mrs. Vroom was on the phone with HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff, three very large policemen—plus the social worker—began pounding on her door. When the police found out Mrs. Vroom was on the phone with her lawyer, their attitude abruptly changed.

The parents brought the children out so the entire posse could see they were fine. All admitted there were no signs of abuse.

But they continued to demand entrance into the home—albeit more politely. The social worker threatened to come back with a court order. As they left, Mrs. Vroom extended her hand. The social worker refused to take it.

We retained Mauck and Baker, a Chicago law firm with a long relationship with HSLDA, to assist. After learning that the family was accused of improper discipline, Woodruff recommended that the family’s doctor examine all the children. He found them to be happy, affectionate, responsive—and he found no signs of abuse.

Since the accusations against the family were not anonymous, the Vrooms later granted the social worker’s request to question their children.

All the charges were subsequently ruled “unfounded.” Neither the social worker nor the police ever entered the home, and no court order was ever obtained.

The family later wrote us: “We had appreciated HSLDA and all they stood for, but until this time we did not realize how very much our homeschool and our family depended on the expertise, wisdom and support of this group. It is with profound gratitude that we are members of the Home School Legal Defense Association and to all who devote their time and resources, our deepest thanks!”