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Homeschooling mom wards off state’s attempts to seize children

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A mother homeschooling her children with learning disabilities is victorious after a year-long battle against the state of Colorado, which sought to remove her children from her home and send them to public school.

In the fall of 2011, a social services worker showed up at the door of Josslyn Kittinger (real name withheld to protect privacy) to investigate her ability to properly educate her special needs children. The uninvited visit was attributed to an anonymous tip from a neighbor complaining that Kittinger was unfit to instruct her children and that they would receive a better education through public school.

And the reason for the unwarranted intrusion that would last for months on end?

Prosecutors, Kittinger's neighbors and the social services investigator all persistently argued that the mother had no right to homeschool her own children because their learning disabilities required state instruction.

But is this a right that can be questioned or taken away? Not according to Home School Legal Defense Association staff attorney Michael P. Donnelly, Esq., who also serves as its director of international relations.

Donnelly

"Many families homeschool their children who have learning disabilities because they find that the children's needs are better met in a one-on-one homeschool setting -- research shows that this is true," Donnelly contends. "It is intolerable that someone would question a family's right to homeschool simply because their children have a learning disability."

However, this contention shared with Ms. Kittinger did not deter further unwanted state involvement for long.

License for home invasion?

Even though the investigating social worker left after the initial visitation -- when Kittinger followed Donnelly's recommendation on the phone and cordially requested the state agent to leave -- a return visit would soon follow.

A few days after the initial visitation -- going on nothing more than a neighbor's comment and a drive-by in front of the Kittinger's house -- the social worker made an unfounded and fallacious determination that the family was preparing to escape to another state. Reporting the unsubstantiated findings to a local court, the investigator pursued and attained a court order, granting legal authority to remove the children from the Kittenger home and take them into state custody in order to send them to public school.

But instead of proceeding to carry out the verbal order, the social worker allowed Ms. Kittinger to retain custody of her children for the time being, on the condition she prove that she was legally homeschooling her children and was never intending on fleeing the state of Colorado. Following the protocol that ensues the issuance of a court order, a lawsuit was filed against the homeschooling mother, with a state prosecutor alleging that she was guilty of educational neglect of her children.

Unsuitable suit

Moving forward in the suit after attaining legal representation from HSLDA local counsel James Rouse, Ms. Kittinger was able to have the social worker's court order nullified in the initial court hearing -- after showing that according to Colorado state law, she was homeschooling legally with an independent school. This is one of the two ways children can be homeschooled in the Centennial State; the other requires legal guardians to file notifications directly with school districts on an annual basis.

The early victory, however, did not convince the state prosecutor to drop the case, which protracted to three hearings in the fall of 2011, and then a five-day trial, in which Donnelly defended Ms. Kittinger in December and the following March.

After an expert witness, Steven Duvall, Ph.D., provided evidence that Ms. Kittinger was providing a satisfactory level of education for her children under state law on the trial's first day, and just hours before the second trial date in March, the social worker dismissed the lawsuit. From his numerous visitations to the Kittinger home, he concluded that there was no proof of educational neglect, and he proceeded to persuade his prosecutor to concede the argument against the family and settle the case.

HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Assn.)A proper defense

Even though this case came to a positive conclusion in regards to parents' rights to educate their children, many parents, when standing alone, are unable to counter challenges brought on by the state when it vies for the control of children's instruction.

"This victory is important for all homeschooling parents, because it strengthens the idea that all children have the right to be homeschooled and the need for HSLDA," Donnelly asserts. "How would this single mother have defended herself?

It is contended that the odds are against homeschoolers when government officials go after them to compel attendance in public schools, as Donnelly is skeptical that Ms. Kittinger would have fared well if left to her own devices without a powerful legal counsel geared to wage an all-out war against state interference.

"The resources needed for this were far beyond her own means, and most court-appointed defenders simply do not have the experience or sympathy to aggressively defend a mom homeschooling in this situation," concluded Donnelly, who along with his wife, homeschools their seven children. "I consider it a privilege to have been allowed to defend this mom who was doing what I believe was indeed best for her children."

source

by on Jan. 22, 2013 at 7:47 AM
Replies (21-30):
Sekirei
by Nari Trickster on Jan. 22, 2013 at 10:01 AM
1 mom liked this

Makes me a little nervous, considering the post has their own truant officer. bleh

I'm glad that she won though, kind of sucks to be accused of neglecting your kids, when you are doing what you think is best for them. 

CrazyLife1996
by on Jan. 22, 2013 at 10:02 AM
1 mom liked this
They want the extra money but don't actually want to help.


Quoting AutymsMommy:


Yes, oddly enough, refuse to test children for certain LDs. Lol!


Quoting CrazyLife1996:

Districts also receive more money per child with a learning disability.





Quoting AutymsMommy:


My district gets my tax dollars regardless of that I homeschool. I assume, by your comment, that some places do not do this?



Quoting candlegal:

I think it really comes down to money more than anything.   Home schooling is increasing by about 10% a year and has been for many years.   For each child being homeschooled, how many thousands is the school system losing?  I know in Texas home schooled children are completely off the grid, which is a very good thing.

Quoting ramonafrog:

Wow. Good for her. I hate that the gov has so much control over what should always be a personal choice. I don't HS but I have several friends who do for this same reason. There are just some kids who need HS'ing rather than public.












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Mommyfish831
by on Jan. 22, 2013 at 10:04 AM
1 mom liked this

I agree with you completely.  The government should not have a say over what a parents choices are.  They step in when children are being abused or neglected but now everything that doesn't keep them under the governments watch and doing what they say you need to do (or not do) is being classified as neglect or abuse.  It's sad and scary.  

Quoting ramonafrog:

Wow. Good for her. I hate that the gov has so much control over what should always be a personal choice. I don't HS but I have several friends who do for this same reason. There are just some kids who need HS'ing rather than public.


Veni.Vidi.Vici.
by on Jan. 22, 2013 at 10:18 AM
3 moms liked this

It really pisses me off when people with 'good intentions' [eye roll] set out to force others to live differently then they choose to. Unless one of those neighbors was a well qualified special education teacher capable of successful classroom integration within that district all neighbors should shut their pie hole and get on with their lives. Or better yet, if one or some of those neighbors are qualified to assist in teaching children with delays or disabilities perhaps those neighbors should act neighborly and reach out to their neighbor.

LucyMom08
by Gold Member on Jan. 22, 2013 at 10:21 AM
2 moms liked this
It seems like there is some information missing from this article...
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
BethanyJ
by Member on Jan. 22, 2013 at 10:21 AM
1 mom liked this

 Articles like this make me so glad the laws in my state make it pretty easy to homeschool.  My mom was fed up with the school district's treatment of me and my sister (my sister had mutliple learning disabilites and was developmentally delayed) so she finally figured she could do a much better job herself and pulled us out.  Thank goodness she did -- because my sister, who a teacher told my mom would never graduate high school -- now has her bachelor's degree.  This is ALL because of my mom and her dedication to my sister's education.  It makes me wonder how many other children with learning disabilities could achieve so much more if they are given the proper one one one instruction.  

lga1965
by on Jan. 22, 2013 at 10:40 AM

 LOL. I have no school age kids--they are adults---but I pay taxes and some go to our schools. I am happy to do it-our schools are excellent.

Quoting AutymsMommy:

 

My district gets my tax dollars regardless of that I homeschool. I assume, by your comment, that some places do not do this?

Quoting candlegal:

I think it really comes down to money more than anything.   Home schooling is increasing by about 10% a year and has been for many years.   For each child being homeschooled, how many thousands is the school system losing?  I know in Texas home schooled children are completely off the grid, which is a very good thing.

Quoting ramonafrog:

Wow. Good for her. I hate that the gov has so much control over what should always be a personal choice. I don't HS but I have several friends who do for this same reason. There are just some kids who need HS'ing rather than public.


 

 

 

Euphoric
by Bazinga! on Jan. 22, 2013 at 10:41 AM

 Good deal.

AutymsMommy
by Silver Member on Jan. 22, 2013 at 10:44 AM

I don't mind that our tax dollars go to the schools. I do wish I could have some of it - our schools are NOT excellent (far from it), but it isn't something I lose sleep over. Lol.


Quoting lga1965:

 LOL. I have no school age kids--they are adults---but I pay taxes and some go to our schools. I am happy to do it-our schools are excellent.

Quoting AutymsMommy:


My district gets my tax dollars regardless of that I homeschool. I assume, by your comment, that some places do not do this?

Quoting candlegal:

I think it really comes down to money more than anything.   Home schooling is increasing by about 10% a year and has been for many years.   For each child being homeschooled, how many thousands is the school system losing?  I know in Texas home schooled children are completely off the grid, which is a very good thing.

Quoting ramonafrog:

Wow. Good for her. I hate that the gov has so much control over what should always be a personal choice. I don't HS but I have several friends who do for this same reason. There are just some kids who need HS'ing rather than public.




 



I am a Home Schooling, Vaccinating, Non spanking, Nightmare Cuddling, Dessert Giving, Bedtime Kissing, Book Reading, Stay at Home Mom. I believe in the benefit of organized after school activities and nosy, involved parents. I believe in spoiling my children. I believe that I have seen the village and I do not want it anywhere near my children. Now for the controversial stuff: we have traditional gender roles, we're Catholic, I'm Libertarian, he's Republican, we're both conservative, and we own guns (now there's no need to ask, lol).             Aimee














Meadowchik
by Silver Member on Jan. 22, 2013 at 10:51 AM
1 mom liked this

 

Quoting AutymsMommy:

As soon as I saw hslda I stopped reading. I homeschool. I homeschool a dyslexic child. I get it. I do.

But hslda is KNOWN for exaggerating to fit their agenda.

 I wouldn' be so hasty.  HSLDA is an international organisation and is helping the little guy fight big battles, all over the world.  I am sooo grateful that they are a support for homeschooling families.

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