March 5, 2007

Family Receives ‘Welcome’ From Social Worker

After moving from Louisiana to Plano, Texas, the Allen family experienced a not-too-welcoming incident regarding their children. The family had just joined the Home School Legal Defense Association and planned on starting homeschooling after the Christmas break. But in November an anonymous tipster sped up their plans!

The Allens were shocked when their kids came home from public school and said they had been interviewed by a social worker. Child Protective Services had received an anonymous complaint alleging “lack of supervision” and “general neglect.”

The CPS followed up on this complaint by finding the children in public school and asking them whether they felt safe, if they had been spanked, and if there was food in their home. The parents were amazed that their children could be taken aside at school without parental permission and asked such invasive questions. However, in Texas, as in most states, social workers are allowed to interview children in school without prior permission from the parents.

After the school interview the social worker contacted the family at their home. The social worker told Mr. Allen that the children were dressed well and did not appear to be neglected in any way. However, she still wanted to enter their home, talk with the parents and interview all the children alone.

At this point, the family called Chris Klicka, attorney with the Home School Legal Defense Association, who advised them to immediately withdraw their children from public school and begin homeschooling. This way they could protect their children from being interrogated.

The family quickly moved up their homeschooling start date to protect their children and avoid any further family trauma.

Klicka then wrote to the social worker to explain the rights of the family under the Fourth Amendment, and that the family was standing on these rights and would be protecting their family by not having the social worker in the home or interview the children. He cited a federal case won by HSLDA: “The government’s interest in the welfare of children embraces not only protecting children from physical abuse, but also protecting children's interest in the privacy and dignity of their homes and in the lawfully exercised authority of their parents.” Calabretta v. Floyd, (1999).

Klicka also explained that the Allens were using excellent curriculum to teach their children and were following all the laws of Texas concerning a private school in the home. In Texas Educational Agency v. Leeper, 893 S.W.2d 432 (1994), the Texas Supreme Court declared that homeschoolers operate as private schools and are required to have a bona fide curriculum in the subjects of reading, writing, math, grammar, and good citizenship.

To expedite the close of the case, Klicka advised the Allens to give the social worker other information. The Allens took their children to a counselor and also had people in the community write the social worker to vouch for their good parenting skills.

After four months of delays and threats, the social worker finally closed the investigation after the Allens got their state representative to send an inquiry.

HSLDA social services contact policy

We desire to assist and 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 assist and 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.