HSLDA Defends Civil Rights of Homeschoolers
- 2004 5 Aug
On the evening of July 9 the H family from Tulsa County was minding their own business at home when there was a knock at the door. The mother answered. It was a social worker who insisted on entering the home and interviewing the children. The mother immediately called HSLDA's emergency number which was answered by Senior Counsel Christopher Klicka.
Klicka asked to talk to the social worker but the social worker refused. Due to the refusal of the social worker to communicate he began instructing the mother on her rights and also giving her statements to relay to the social worker. The social worker, however, kept trying to walk away in an effort to avoid hearing the statements.
Meanwhile, the social worker kept stating that he wanted to take the children and that if she did not let him in the door, he would take the children. Klicka continued to refuse entry. The social worker would not even obey the law, passed at the Federal level with the help of HSLDA, which requires that the family must be told the allegations upon the first contact with the social worker. Klicka would not relent to the social worker's threats and demands so the social worker called the police. Three police officers responded.
The police officers were very reasonable and we allowed them to enter the home to verify the allegations.
The allegations were that the family had "bare wires" throughout the house, that there was "dust covering the interior of the house," and "laundry piled up." As the police officer left the family's home he stated, "your house is cleaner than mine!" The police concluded that the allegations were bogus.
It was later discovered that a hostile neighbor had turned the family in because they didn't like Christian homeschoolers.
Klicka sent a letter to the social worker the following Monday indicating that he had clearly exceeded his authority and violated the civil rights of the family, thereby opening himself to personal liability. The letter also stated that social workers communicate with attorney Klicka rather than the family.
The next day the social worker called the family directly insisting that they bring their ten children down to his office to be interviewed separately from the parents. Klicka called the social worker and told him that the family would not be coming. He followed up with a supervisor explaining that the family had certain Fourth Amendment rights that prohibited the social worker from coming into the home. Also, the family had no obligation nor did they want to have their children interviewed by this extremely hostile social worker who had repeatedly threatened the family with the removal of their children.
The supervisor indicated that their policy prevented them from talking to lawyers, that they have to do this interview and they need to enter the home. When Klicka explained that these allegations were completely bogus and the tip was made by a malicious tipster, the supervisor indicated that it didn't matter. "It is our policy that we must interview the children and come into the home," he said. When Klicka explained that the social worker's statement from the police officer showed that these allegations were bogus and that there was no need to go any further in the allegation, the supervisor once again stated, "it is our policy, we have to do this." After thirty minutes of getting nowhere, Klicka explained that they were going to stand their ground and not let the social worker interview the children because it was unnecessary and too dramatic a violation of their civil rights. He also explained that they would not let the social worker into the house.
The supervisor ended the conversation by saying he would turn the matter over to the prosecutor in order to obtain a court order. Klicka asked him "what would be the charge?" The supervisor indicated it would be "not cooperating." Klicka said "not cooperating is not a crime, the family is not required to do so by law."
After the conversation with the supervisor Klicka contacted Tulsa County Prosecutor, Tim Harris, who amazingly had attended the same law school as Klicka. Harris said that he agreed with HSLDA's position and that the investigation would not result in a court hearing. Thankfully the H family has been protected.
Many social services agencies overstep their bounds and attempt to harass innocent homeschool families. A significant portion of HSLDA's legal work concerns similar situations. Regrettably, the threat from social services is significant and "neighbors" hostile to homeschooling remain. HSLDA is the only organization standing between them and your family.