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September 10, 2009

‘Calling HSLDA? We’ll Call the Police.’

St. Louis area lifetime HSLDA member Bonnie Shelley (name changed to protect her privacy) answered a knock on her door. The friendly social worker on her porch told Bonnie she was there to do a family assessment and would like to ask her kids some questions.

Bonnie told the social worker that she would first like to call Home School Legal Defense Association. Upon hearing that, the social worker’s disposition suddenly changed, and she called the police. Since the station was very close, a police officer was there within a minute.

The social worker insisted that she needed to make sure the kids were okay. Upon the advice of HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff, Bonnie allowed all her children—including the sleeping baby-—to come out and greet the social worker and then return inside. The social worker could see that all the kids were fine. She wrote down their names and ages, but on Woodruff’s advice Bonnie did not supply the birth dates of the children.

Woodruff asked the social worker what the allegations were. Bonnie was accused of making her 3-year-old eat brussels sprouts, and when he threw them up, of making him eat the vomit.

The kids kept asking, “What’s going on, mom?” When Bonnie told the kids that this was not the right time to ask questions, the social worker said, “They sure are curious, aren’t they?” The social worker was very interested in the fact that all the kids were homeschooled.

Woodruff asked Bonnie to go back into the house out of the hearing of the social worker. He gave Bonnie advice on dealing with the situation. Bonnie then went back to the front door and refuted all the allegations. She also told the social worker she was not comfortable with her questioning the children.

The social worker said, “Well, I guess I’m not going to get to talk to the children today.” She told Bonnie that she would soon be getting a letter saying there was no indication of neglect.