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September 14, 2004
Burt v. County of Orange
HSLDA offers amicus assistance for parental rights

Filed: June 30, 2004

Nature of Case: On June 30, 2004, the Court of Appeals (4th District) in California came down with a very favorable ruling regarding a due process issue that HSLDA has been concerned about for years. When Orange County appealed to the Supreme Court of California, HSLDA sent a letter to the Court requesting permission to file an amicus brief opposing review.

In California, social workers must classify an investigation as "unfounded," "substantiated," or "inconclusive." Both "substantiated" and "inconclusive" findings are filed in the Central Registry, and there is no procedure in statute or regulation that allows for an appeal of this decision. Thus, an innocent family who refuses to cooperate with an investigation may be reported to the Registry as "inconclusive."

The Court of Appeals ruled that due process required a hearing and chance to appeal the social worker's decision, even if neither the statutes nor the regulations governing social service investigations provided for such a hearing, and it remanded the case back to the lower court to determine what the scope of the hearing should be. (Burt v. County of Orange, 120 Cal.App.4th 273 (2004)).

Status: HSLDA has written a letter of amicus to the California Supreme Court, requesting permission to file an amicus brief opposing review. We are awaiting a response.

Last Updated: September 14, 2004