Sometimes the people we never think will give us grief for homeschooling are the very ones we need to fear. In my family’s case, it was a neighbor with school age children who kept referring to us as “people like you”. Anyone who has faced racism or bigotry knows that phrase very well. It does two things–elevates the accuser to a superior level above you and lowers you to the level of something the cat dragged in the door. It’s insulting, condescending, and arrogant all at the same time. But it happens.
When you think about it we homeschoolers encounter people of all walks of life all week long and any of those people can report us to social services for no other reason than they disagree with the concept of homeschooling. Here’s a short list:
- Doctor’s office
- Optometrist’s office
- Dentist’s office
- Playground playmates
- Relatives, especially in-laws
- Elementary school
- Middle school
- High school
- Girl scouts
- Cub scouts
- Boy scouts
- Gymnastics trainers
- Sports coaches
Many of these people report homeschoolers in retaliation for taking their business elsewhere or for refusing to participate in activities that are against our beliefs. Before you know it, you have phone messages on your answering machine and notes on your door from social services. Here’s how to handle these people. I cannot stress enough how important it is to know your rights and to refuse to be bullied. You are a model to your children. They take their lead from you. Do you want them to grow up afraid of lowly paid, uneducated government workers? Or do you want them to stand proud and turn around and homeschool their own kids?
Always get the business card of the social worker
This way you can call the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and, if you become a member, they can call the social worker on your behalf. If the situation is hostile, immediately call HSLDA and hand the phone out the door so an HSLDA lawyer can talk to the social worker. They have a 24-hour number for this purpose.
Find out the allegations
Many social workers will lie and claim they cannot tell you the allegations. This is a lie. You have the right to know the allegations without letting them into your home or answering any questions.
Never let the social worker in your house without a warrant or court order
Many social workers will claim they have a right to enter your home and speak with your child alone. They do NOT. The social worker can only enter your home without a warrant or court order if your waive your fourth amendment right to be free from such searches and seizures. Rarely, if ever, are social workers able to procure warrants or court orders because they have no proof or probable cause of any wrongdoing. A suspicious neighbor is not sufficient to go barging into people’s homes.
If the police or a social worker illegally enter your home, say very loudly and clearly, “You do not have my permission to enter my home and are doing so illegally. I will seek legal action against you and your employer for this illegal entry.” If you have an Android phone or iPhone, record the enter conversation and videotape anyone entering your home. DO NOT GIVE ANYONE PERMISSION TO ENTER YOUR HOME OR SPEAK TO YOUR CHILDREN.
Never let the social worker talk to your children alone without a court order
If a police officer claims he has had a call reporting a child in danger, you can have your child appear in the doorway out of reach and let the officer view your child. It’s up to you whether you trust the office to speak to your child while you are there. I personally would not.
You can have an HSLDA attorney be present with your child if an officer or social worker has a court order to speak with your child alone. This attorney will represent your child and make sure he/she is safe. There is no reason for a police officer or social worker to not agree to this.
Tell the official that you will call back after you speak with your attorney
Call your attorney or an HSLDA attorney immediately. If you are not a member, you should sign up immediately and ask to speak to an attorney. They can usually take care of everything over the phone.
Social workers and police officers are trained to lie. They will say almost anything and make you fear for your safety and your children’s safety to get what they want. Don’t trust them and don’t be intimidated. In the off chance that a petulant social worker or police officer is able to get a court order with flimsy evidence you should contact HSLDA immediately.
Offer to give the officials the following supporting evidence
- A statement from your doctor after he has had a chance to examine your children, if the allegations involve some type of physical abuse.
- References from individuals who can vouch for your being good parents.
- Evidence of the legality of homeschooling. HSLDA attorneys routinely deal with this type of evidence and social workers.
Record every incident by audio or video recorder and bring these recordings and witnesses to any subsequent meetings
Meetings with social workers should include your HSLDA attorney and should follow certain ground rules.
- Discussion should be limited to the allegations. Avoid discussing anything else.
- What information you give them can be used against you, so don’t volunteer any information.
Inform your church and put the investigation in your prayer chain
Most homeschoolers are religious. Use the power of prayer to help deliver you and your children from this.
Avoid potential situations that could lead to a child welfare investigation
- Don’t spank your children
- Don’t spank other people’s children
- Avoid leaving your children at home alone for any length of time
As Americans we are raised to believe that police are the heroes, that they protect and serve us. Cops have the highest rate of domestic abuse both to their spouses and children. Sometimes even to extended family. They also have a high incidence of using their profession to bully others, including their neighbors. Don’t believe just because a cop says something that it’s true. They are trained to lie to people in order to get information from them. Even innocent parents.
If you think you will never have legal problems in homeschooling, then you are among the lucky. Although I have had people harass me (like the neighbor who called us “people like you”), I have never had a homeschooling encounter with a social worker or a police officer. If I had, I would gladly have joined the HSLDA. If you are worried at all that you may have problems with relatives, neighbors, or others that will escalate into a legal confrontation, then join HSLDA. They are a homeschooling family’s best protection.