April 28, 2014

HSLDA to Social Worker: You Don’t Have Jurisdiction

Scott Woodruff answers questions and assists members regarding legal issues in Missouri. He and his wife homeschooled their children. Read more >>

As Mr. Paragon (not his real name) pulled his daughter out of Springfield, Missouri, public schools, an official insisted that he file a “declaration of enrollment.” Since he knew the declaration is optional, he declined.

Soon a social worker was knocking on Paragon’s door. She asked to question his daughter and inspect his home. He turned her down and contacted HSLDA for help.

HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott A. Woodruff wrote a letter to the social worker. He explained that under Missouri statute 167.031.7 (the last sentence) and statute 211.031.4., only prosecuting attorneys and juvenile officers have authority to investigate when the sole issue is homeschooling.

He pointed out that if a family is reported to social services for homeschooling, the Children’s Division publication “Guidelines for Mandated Reporters” states that the social worker should simply refer it to the local school superintendent.

The superintendent then has the opportunity to end the matter right there. But if he thinks the circumstances warrant it, he can refer it on to the prosecuting attorney. Or he can refer it to the local juvenile officer who can in turn investigate and refer to the prosecuting attorney if necessary.

But, as Woodruff explained, in no event does the social worker (or the superintendent) have jurisdiction to investigate the family when the only issue is homeschooling.

Since receiving Woodruff’s letter, the social worker has left Mr. Paragon alone.
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Protect Your Family

If you or someone you know is not a member of HSLDA, will you consider taking a moment today to join or recommend us? Your support enables us to defend individual families threatened by government officials and protect homeschooling freedom for all. Join now >>

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.