Home School Legal Defense Association

P.O. Box 3000, Purcellville, VA 20134



For Immediate Release Contact: James Mason
May 25, 2005 (540) 338-8626

SOCIAL WORKERS MUST OBEY THE FOURTH AMENDMENT



Purcellville VA – A three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court unanimously ruled on May 20, 2005, that a court-ordered “home visit” by Susquehanna County investigative social workers violated the constitutional rights of Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) members, Rob and Susan Gauthier of Thompson, Pennsylvania. “This is a tremendous victory for Pennsylvania families,” said J. Michael Smith, President of HSLDA. “The Court correctly applied the Fourth Amendment to child abuse and neglect investigations,” he added.

The Court further explained that before juvenile courts may issue search orders the social worker “must file a verified petition alleging facts amounting to probable cause to believe that an act of child abuse or neglect has occurred and evidence relating to such abuse will be found in the home.”

Susquehanna County argued that the Fourth Amendment simply does not apply to social worker investigations. The Court disagreed. In addition, many courts have ruled, in cases where HSLDA attorneys have represented a party, (Calabretta v. Floyd, and In re Jonie Stumbo), that in non-emergency situations social workers need to have a court order supported by probable cause before they may enter a home over the objections of the resident.

“This is an all-too-common scenario,” said James R. Mason, III, Litigation Counsel for HSLDA, who represented the Gauthiers. “Social workers around the country believe that they must search a home before they can close an investigation, even when the social worker knows that no abuse or neglect occurred.”

For more information on Susquehanna County v Gauthier.

Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is a 22 year old, 80,000 member non-profit organization and the preeminent national association advocating the legal right of parents to homeschool their children.

 Other Resources

In re Gauthier

Calabretta v. Floyd

In re Jonie Stumbo