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Vol. XXV
No. 5
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September/October
2009

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ARIZONA

Arguments Proceed in Federal Lawsuit

Case: Loudermilk Family v. Administration for Children, Youth & Families
Filed: March 3, 2006

by Nicholas Bolzman

The summary judgment process is underway in the federal lawsuit Home School Legal Defense Association filed on behalf of the Loudermilk family. This story began in 2005 when, based on a two-month-old anonymous tip, two social workers and six sheriff’s deputies insisted on entering and inspecting the Loudermilks’ home. Since these officials had no search warrant, the Loudermilks denied entry, based on their 4th Amendment rights. However, the social workers persisted, threatening to take away the children immediately.

The Loudermilks called HSLDA for assistance. HSLDA Staff Attorney Thomas Schmidt reiterated to the social workers, sheriff’s deputies, and even the assistant attorney general—whom the social workers had called for guidance—that the officials had no right to enter the home or take away the children; but all to no avail. Despite the lack of legal authority, the social workers, backed by the sheriff’s deputies and assistant attorney general, began to fill out paperwork to immediately remove the children.

Faced with the choice between sacrificing their 4th Amendment rights and losing their children, the Loudermilks chose the former and allowed the social workers and sheriff’s deputies to inspect the home. Five minutes later, the officials had determined that the allegations were completely false and left.

HSLDA filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the Loudermilk family, alleging that the search violated the 4th Amendment and that the unjustified threat to remove the children was a separate constitutional violation of the family’s 14th Amendment right to privacy and family integrity. Our first victory came on September 27, 2007, when the judge denied the social workers’ and assistant attorney general’s motion to dismiss the claims. The judge stated, “Defendants persisted in their threats to remove the children if Plaintiff Parents did not consent to the search, stating that [they] could arrest or handcuff the Parents in front of the children. Based on the allegations set forth in the Amended Complaint, viewed in Plaintiff’s favor, no reasonable official would have believed that his or her conduct was authorized by state or constitutional law.” With regard to the assistant attorney general, the court ruled that “Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged that [the attorney] . . . by ‘threat’ exerted ‘coercive pressure’ on them to allow the search of their home so that their children would not be removed.”

This ruling allowed the case to proceed to the discovery phase, where the testimony of everyone involved was gathered. No surprises were found during this process, as all witnesses generally agree about what took place on the Loudermilks’ doorstep. At the close of discovery, the social workers, sheriff’s deputies, and assistant attorney general have filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming that no violation occurred and the trial should not proceed. They continue to insist that the Loudermilks freely consented to the search, and thus there was no 4th Amendment violation.

HSLDA responded, citing the evidence from discovery that demonstrates that the “consent” was granted under duress, and not voluntary under the 4th Amendment, case precedent, or even the sheriff department’s own policy. Furthermore, the officials involved showed a blatant disrespect for the Loudermilks’ 4th and 14th Amendment rights, and should be held liable for this abuse of their authority. We are awaiting the judge’s decision on this matter.

NEW JERSEY

NJ Family Taken to Court over NY Law

Case: Port Jervis City School District v. M Family
Filed: April 7, 2009

by Nicholas Bolzman

Last issue, we reported on the California family that was expected to comply with North Dakota law.

The most recent case that crosses state lines involves the Miller family (names changed to protect privacy), who live in a rural part of New Jersey, close to the New York border. Because there is no public high school in this district, the local school district has an agreement with the neighboring New York high school to permit the New Jersey students to attend there. Earlier this year, Mrs. Miller decided to withdraw her daughter Anna from the public high school. Mrs. Miller notified the “receiving” New York school district that she was withdrawing Anna to homeschool her. New Jersey law does not require notice but she notified the “sending” New Jersey school district as well.

Shortly thereafter, the New Jersey school district filed a complaint with the New Jersey municipal court bizarrely alleging that Mrs. Miller’s daughter was truant because she was not in compliance with New York homeschool law. At this point, the Miller family contacted HSLDA for assistance. We were able to successfully intervene and filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that New Jersey residents were governed by New Jersey law, rather than New York law. The judge agreed and dismissed the case.

Pending Cases

AL B Family v. Social Security Administration

CA County of LA v. S

CA L Family v. Social Security Administration

CA M Family v. County of San Bernardino

GA In re: JM

IA In re: KW

IN S Family v. Social Security Administration

MT V Family v. Social Security Administration

NJ In re: M

NJ North Warren Regional School District v. C Family

NM In re: BW

NY In re: JT

NY In re: MD

SC Barnwell School District v. T Family

TX K Family v. Social Security Administration

WA F Family v. Department of Veterans Affairs

Pennsylvania RFPA Cases

Combs v. Homer-Center School District
Hankin v. Bristol Township School District
Newborn v. Franklin Regional School District
Weber v. Dubois Area School District


About the author

Nicholas Bolzman is a litigation assistant at HSLDA.