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February 2, 2013

Social Worker Says “I’ll be Back!” Attorney Says “Make My Day”

Staff Attorney Mike Donnelly answers questions and assists members regarding legal issues in Minnesota. He and his wife homeschool. Watch a video to hear Donnelly explain why he loves helping families rescue their children from public schools. You can friend him on Facebook by adding mpdonnelly2 to your friends list.

Homeschoolers are often well aware of their Fourth Amendment protections and know that social workers do not have a right to inspect their homes without a search warrant. But what happens when you are away from home and the social worker gets invited in? When Mrs. P. came home from errands one Monday afternoon, she found that a social worker and public health official had visited while she was away.

Mrs. P’s mother was watching the home and thought that the government workers were friends of the family, so she invited them inside. The social worker and health official inspected the kitchen and asked about an alleged rat infestation. By the time Mrs. P. returned, the inspectors had gone, leaving a business card and an ominous-sounding warning that “they would be back.”

Right to Privacy

Absent a search warrant, consent or valid emergency, social workers have no right to enter the home without consent, and families have a Fourth Amendment right to maintain the privacy of their home. In most cases, there is no need for a social worker to inspect a home in order to close an investigation.

HSLDA recommends that families get the specific and complete list of allegations and consult an attorney before allowing a social worker inside their home. If you are an HSLDA member, and there is a social worker at your door, you have access to our attorneys at any time for advice and consultation.

Mrs. P. contacted HSLDA the next morning and spoke with HSLDA attorney for Minnesota member affairs Mike Donnelly. After speaking with Mrs. P., Donnelly was able to advise her how to approach the social worker. Social workers often employ a standard procedure to justify continuing an investigation beyond the scope of the original allegations.

Good News

However, later that afternoon, Mrs. P. called back with the good news. “I took your advice—everything was resolved!” she said. “I really appreciated being able to call and feel like I had somebody who knew what was going on and knew what I should do. Thank you!”

HSLDA is pleased to help members like the P. family resolve situations like this—even when homeschooling is not the precise issue. As a member of HSLDA Mrs. P. enjoys peace of mind and confidence, knowing that she has experienced attorneys who understand homeschoolers and are willing and able to stand alongside her.

Are you a member of HSLDA? If not, you can enjoy this same confidence and peace of mind. Learn more about the benefits an HSLDA membership can bring to your family. Join now >>

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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.