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North Carolina

December 1, 2014

Injured Toe Results in Homeschool Investigation


Senior Counsel Dee Black answers questions and assists members with legal issues in North Carolina. He and his wife homeschooled their children. Read more >>

In September, Home School Legal Defense Association defended a Charlotte family’s homeschool in an investigation arising out of an injury to their 2-year-old daughter’s toe. After she was treated at the emergency room and released, an agent from the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services (DSS) showed up at the family’s front door because the child’s 12-year-old sister had been babysitting her at the time of the accident. The DSS worker conducted a safety assessment, finding in her report that there were “no identified safety concerns.” Unfortunately, this was not the end of the investigation. The social worker then turned her attention to the family’s homeschool and informed the mother that she intended to conduct weekly, unannounced visits to the home to verify that instruction was taking place. That’s when HSLDA got involved.

HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt Black sent a letter to the DSS worker, objecting to the continued investigation of the family. Black noted that DSS had received no report about the family’s homeschool or any evidence of educational neglect of the children. He said that there was no legal basis for the social worker to repeatedly enter the family’s home and monitor their homeschool.

Black also informed the DSS agent that North Carolina law limits the circumstances under which a social worker may enter a private residence for investigation purposes. Specifically, a social worker may not enter a private residence without at least one of the following:

  1. A reasonable belief that a juvenile is in imminent danger of death or serious physical injury;
  2. The permission of the parent or person responsible for the juvenile’s care;
  3. The accompaniment of a law enforcement officer who has legal authority to enter the residence; or
  4. An order from a court of competent jurisdiction.

Since none of these four circumstances was present, the family was within their rights to refuse entry into their home for any continued investigation.

Two days later the DSS worker informed the family that she had closed the investigation.

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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.

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 for our work enables us to defend individual families threatened by government officials and protect homeschooling freedom for all. Join now >>