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February 27, 2006

Fending Off Social Workers

Roberta Landsiedel was surprised to find a card from the Department of Family Services at her door. When she called the worker from Child Protective Services, he explained that she had been accused of educational neglect and that he would have to investigate. According to the report, Roberta was supposed to have said that she "doesn't have time to educate her children." Roberta immediately called the Home School Legal Defense Association.

The story that unfolded was all too common to HSLDA's attorney. The family had started teaching their children at home the year before, but found the curriculum they picked at first was too intensive for their child. When they finally switched to a new curriculum, they felt it would be better to start over at the beginning of the grade rather than jump into the middle of a program since the children were already struggling. When the mother confided her struggles with a friend at church, the rumor mill got going. It ended with allegations of educational neglect and a mandatory investigation by Child Protective Services.

HSLDA promptly contacted the social worker to explain the situation. The family never had to meet for any formal interviews, and Roberta was able to document that she did, in fact, have time to educate her children. The case worker went away, and finally closed out the case without any adverse consequences to the family.

Wyoming social workers are supposed to protect children from harm, not check up on curriculum choices. The Landsiedel family was in compliance with Wyoming law at all times and should never have had to deal with this investigation. Sadly, tongues will wag in a small town, and homeschoolers must always be prepared to respond to allegations of neglect, even when they are not doing anything wrong. HSLDA stands ready to help in such a situation.