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February 25, 2013

On the Case:

Homeschool Parents Removed from Neglect Registry

Staff Attorney Darren Jones is a member of HSLDA’s litigation team, which helps homeschool families who are facing legal challenges. He and his wife homeschool.
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New York Children and Family Services removed the names of homeschooling parents Walter and Janet Wendell (names changed to protect privacy) from the state abuse and neglect registry in February 2013.

In 2011 Walter Wendell moved with his family to another area within New York state and began pastoring a church. Though they had been members with HSLDA when they homeschooled in the past, the Wendells decided to start a private school at their church. They enrolled their two children in the private school for the 2011-12 school year.

Under Investigation

Unfortunately, the private school closed, and a neighbor reported the Wendells to Child Protective Services. By the time CPS opened their case, the Wendells had filed their homeschooling notice of intent for the 2012-13 school year. But because they had not filed their notice of intent or Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP) for the previous school year, CPS placed the Wendells on the CPS abuse registry for alleged educational neglect. This decision was detrimental to the Wendells because it prohibited them from passing a background check and working in their children's ministry.

The Wendells appealed the determination and contacted HSLDA. Litigation attorney Darren Jones submitted a brief arguing that even though the Wendells had not filed their paperwork, they had not neglected their children’s education. In fact, the Wendell children had received excellent educational instruction, shown by their high scores on a standardized test taken at the end of the 2011-12 school year.

Case Closed

The administrative hearing officer agreed with HSLDA’s arguments and removed the Wendells’ names from the registry.

The Wendells expressed their appreciation to HSLDA. “We wanted to somehow express our gratitude. Thank you again for your help and support.”

HSLDA attorneys are blessed to serve the homeschool community on a daily basis.

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HSLDA Social Services Contact Policy

We desire to advise our members in every contact with a social worker and/or police officer in investigations resulting from allegations of abuse or neglect. If homeschooling is an issue, we will represent our member families until the issue is resolved. On Fourth Amendment unreasonable search and seizure issues, HSLDA will advise our members whenever the privacy of their home is violated by forced or coerced entry for the purpose of an unsubstantiated investigation. HSLDA membership benefits do not extend to court actions resulting from non-homeschooling matters. However, in circumstances where there is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment, HSLDA may, as we have done in the past, choose to take the case in an effort to establish legal precedent.