January 5, 2007

False Allegation of ‘Emaciation’ Rebuffed

As is often the case, the social workers did not call for an appointment.

So when Stephanie Gregory responded to the knock on her door in south-central Texas, she was shocked to see two social workers. They demanded to come into her home and question her son privately. This would be a frightening experience for anyone, but she kept her composure and courteously responded that she would like to talk to her attorney before responding. One social worker said, “We’ll just get a court order,” and left.

This member family immediately called Home School Legal Defense Association for help. HSLDA attorney Scott Woodruff contacted the social worker and mailed a letter explaining the family’s Fourth Amendment rights. When he tried to discuss the case, the social worker insisted on a written authorization from the family. Woodruff sent an authorization form to the family, who promptly signed it and gave it to the social worker.

With the avenue of communication now open, Woodruff questioned the social worker carefully. He learned that the report alleged that her son was “emaciated” and there was no food in the house. At his suggestion, the family promptly took the boy to a doctor who confirmed there was absolutely no evidence of abuse or neglect. Also based on his recommendation, the family asked neighbors and acquaintances to send letters confirming that the boy was well cared for.

Even with the supportive report from the doctor and many affirming letters from acquaintances coming in, the social worker asserted that it was not enough. Woodruff wrote a letter, however, pointing out that the family had already given her enough evidence to close her file.

After several weeks of silence, the social worker wrote the family and said the file was being closed. We appreciate the social worker’s good judgment in not troubling this family further after the file was well-supplied with evidence that there was no abuse or neglect.