The fact that a New York school district simply delayed processing the paperwork for a mother who decided to homeschool her son cost the mother custody – at least temporarily – of her son, according to a new report.
The Home School Legal Defense Association reports that what should have been no more than a simple misunderstanding or paperwork mixup resulted in the child being taken into custody by social services agencies.
The organization which works worldwide to promote the rights of parents and students and to advocate for homeschooling said it was using pseudonyms, Sherry and Carson Fleming, to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
The report posted online said the conflict developed in the Albany school district and escalated unchecked until the New York Department of Children, Youth, and Families removed the child, Carson, from the family home.
“One of the problems that homeschoolers face in New York is that school districts are very quick to involve DCYF when there is even a minor dispute over paperwork,” said Darren Jones, a litigation attorney for the HSLDA who worked on the case.
The case developed after Fleming submitted to the district her notice of intent and began homeschooling Carson at the start of the 2011-2012 year. As it’s normal for school districts to allow weeks to pass before they process such paperwork, it’s not unusual for schools to total up weeks’ worth of unexcused absences, the HSLDA said.
“While Ms. Fleming waited for the school to review her information, the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) received an anonymous accusation, presumably from a schoolteacher, that Carson had unexcused absences from school. Blaming Ms. Fleming for refusing to cooperate with school officials, DCYF charged her with educational neglect. At her hearing, the judge, unfamiliar with New York’s homeschooling laws, refused to recognize that Ms. Fleming was in compliance with the law and ordered that Carson attend public school. But after Ms. Fleming visited the school officials the next day, they approved her homeschool and informed the court,” the organization reported.
However, the trials were just beginning, because while Fleming believed the neglect charges would be dropped with the approval of her actions, the judge simply refused and ordered that because Carson was not enrolled in the public school he must be removed from his mother and put into a foster home.
The HSLDA said it was able to sort out the information and obtain from the DCYF a dismissal of the charges, allowing Carson to return home.
It was just days ago when WND reported that position was exactly what a politician has begun advocating.
The issue arose after Lotta Edholm, a prominent leader of Sweden’s liberal party, opined in an article in Aftonbladet, a Swedish newspaper, that the nation’s social service laws should be changed to encourage social workers to take children away from homeschooling families.
“That the deputy minister of social affairs, Maria Larsson … should take an initiative to change the social services act so that the social authorities can intervene when children are kept away from school by their parents,” she wrote on her blog.
“A country that does not permit home education is not really a free country,” noted Michael Donnelly, director of international affairs for the HSLDA.
Donnelly, who has worked closely in support of homeschooling families in a number of nations where they are being persecuted, said the change in Sweden is a turn for the worse.