When an anonymous complaint sent the Arkansas Department of Human Services to the front door of homeschool parents Daryl and Tammy last year, the couple called HSLDA. The anonymous complaint stated that their 16-year-old daughter wasn’t “in school.”
After a month of back-and-forth with the investigator clarifying that that their daughter was legally homeschooling, DHS dropped the claims of educational neglect, and the family breathed a sigh of relief, glad that they could move on with their lives.
But a year later, DHS showed up again. They had received another anonymous complaint. Once again, the allegation was that the HSLDA member family’s now 17-year-old daughter was “not in school.” Because it was a second call on the same issue, DHS escalated the complaint into a full investigation.
Questions about the Future
For two months the allegation hung over the family’s head.
Finally, after the family agreed to a Zoom interview, the DHS investigator informed them she would close the case as unsubstantiated since “their HSLDA attorney sent over all the paperwork she needed.”
When the family asked what would happen if another anonymous allegation came in for the same issue, the DHS investigator informed them the department would investigate again, but it would “be resolved much faster.” She also said that anyone could make an allegation, so long as they were over a certain age.
Her answer left the parents understandably frustrated.
As Daryl noted afterwards: “My family endured months of phone calls, random knocks on the door and investigation over anonymous claims that were closed unsubstantiated. There needs to be a stronger way to track who is making these claims other than just an age qualification.”
Need for Reform
HSLDA’s friends at the Parental Rights Foundation agree—and it is one reason they encourage state legislators to reform child welfare laws to replace “anonymous reporting” with “confidential reporting.”
According to data from United States Department of Health and Human Services, an average 96 percent of all anonymous DHS allegations are ultimately deemed unfounded or unsubstantiated. But vindication doesn’t erase the damage done to children and their families by months-long investigations into their home life.
Daryl and Tammy are happy to once again have this investigation concluded, but the fear of putting their daughter through another investigation still hangs over their head.
Here for You
Thankfully, if anything does happen, they have HSLDA in their corner.
As Daryl said, “In the two allegations, HSLDA has been there to answer questions, walk us through the process, and give us outstanding guidance. Knowing the legal team was there helped us get through these months of difficulty. We greatly appreciate the extra steps HSLDA took to get us through this, even being present on the phone during home visits and sitting in on Zoom interviews. Thank you again HSLDA.”
I would encourage you to check out PRF’s model legislation here. You can also visit the PRF website to learn more about how the organization is developing policy and helping to educate the public regarding parental rights.
In the meantime, HSLDA members always have access to our team if their right to homeschool is challenged.