December 4, 2007

Nine-Year-Old’s Bike Crash Leads to Social Worker Investigation

A Dallas social worker received an anonymous tip that the Luke family’s (name changed to protect their privacy) grandson, who is 9 years old, had injured his teeth but did not receive sufficient medical attention. She phoned the Luke family, and said she intended to visit their home and interview the child.

Frightened, the grandmother called Home School Legal Defense Association. Attorney Chris Klicka informed of her right to keep the social worker outside on the doorstep and refuse an interview with the child. Klicka advised her to just have the child come to the door and smile so the social worker could see his front teeth were fine.

The social worker promptly visited the Lukes’ house but brought a police detective with her! The child came and smiled through the front door, and the grandmother explained he had borrowed a neighbor’s bike equipped with handbrakes—which he had never used before. When he stopped to help an injured friend, he squeezed the calipers too hard and went over the handle bars!

Chris Klicka, who was on speaker phone listening, then talked to the detective, explaining their Fourth Amendment rights. The bike allegation was resolved.

But then the social worker surprised the grandmother with another allegation! She said she as worried about the safety of the environment in the Lukes’ home. For this reason, the social worker indicated that she needed to enter the home and inspect it. Mrs. Luke and Klicka denied the social worker entrance. At this time, the social worker became upset and accused Mrs. Luke of not cooperating. She then threatened to get a search warrant.

The social worker’s threat was ridiculous, since they cannot get a search warrant based on an anonymous tip! In fact, HSLDA recently won a federal case that held social workers liable for making false threats against a family they were investigating!

Klicka immediately faxed the social worker a letter explaining the absurdity of her requests and threats, and vouching for the Lukes, who very obviously took care of their grandson’s teeth. Nonetheless, Klicka assured the social worker that letters from individuals who frequent Mrs. Luke’s house and can vouch for safe conditions for her grandson would be provided.

As predicted, the social worker’s threat proved idle, and the Luke family was left alone.

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.