April 12, 2001

Michigan:"What Is the Fourth Amendment Again?"

Mr. and Mrs. A were enjoying an extended out-of-state trip with their family. While checking their answering machine, they discovered a message from a local child protective services worker. Mr. A called CPS to find out what was going on. Apparently, an anonymous person had alleged that Mr. A's children were being "beaten" and that one had a black eye. The charges were completely false, but the CPS worker insisted that, as soon as they arrived back from their trip, he come into their home and interview each child, including their three year old.

Upon advice from Home School Legal Defense Association, the family submitted a statement from their doctor, giving the family a clean bill of health and several character references.

However, the CPS worker still insisted that the law required him to come into the house and interview the children. When HSLDA challenged him that this was not in the law, he was not able to produce any authority to the contrary.

When HSLDA told the CPS worker we simply wanted to protect the family's Fourth Amendment rights, he asked "What is the Fourth Amendment again?" This man has been a social worker for 20 years, and yet he did not know what the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says! The Fourth Amendment is the key Due Process protection that every law enforcement officer must follow.

HSLDA reminded the social worker that he had no right to enter the home and interview the children without a warrant or court order signed by a judge. The anonymous tip he had received was false and did not rise to the level of probable cause. After 30 minutes of discussion, the situation was finally resolved to the satisfaction of the parents, and the social worker determined that allegations were unfounded.

Unfortunately, this insistence on entering the home and interviewing the children without probable cause or a warrant is typical of responses HSLDA attorneys regularly receive from social workers who are not aware of either the state statutes or the constitutionally protected rights of families as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. That makes it doubly important that every home schooling family know their constitutional rights and their state home schooling law.