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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 (41-50):
lga1965
by on Jan. 22, 2013 at 2:41 PM

 That's wonderful for you and good for your Mom. That is excellent!

But you're making this too personal and not considering that there could be more to this story and admitting that other home schooling moms might have the wrong motivation , reasons for home schooling and lack the ability to teach their kids.

Quoting kailu1835:

None of the answers to your questions matter. It is her right to homeschool, regardless of her reasons for doing so. You do not need a college degree to follow a curriculum. I know that's so totally un-PC, and I'm sure the teachers' unions would love to have my head over such a statement, but regardless, it is true. I was homeschooled by mom mom prior to being told she had to put me into public school, and I was 2 years ahead of the other kindergarteners. I went to a coop school for 7th, 9th, and 10th grades, and the parents taught the classes. None had any degrees. When I graduated, it was at the age of 16, and I was still well ahead of my peers.

Quoting lga1965:

 


Quoting LucyMom08:

It seems like there is some information missing from this article...

 I agree.


Here's what I wonder: Did the neighbors know something that only a neighbor who has the opportunity to observe could know? Can this homeschooling Mom prove she actually knows how to home school? Is there something we don't know?


I agree that it is everyone's choice to home school. BUT are these children being educated or merely protected from others and sheilded from the variety of viewpoints that are introduced in Public Schools?


 And, are parents really so thoroughly trained and educated that they really CAN decide what is best for their children and ignore those in the Education Systems and their advice? My worry is that a Mom with barely a high school education will ,on the basis of her own bias against schools, decide she knows more than Educators and keep her kids home, theoretically,but not actually,  "home schooling" them.


 

 

candlegal
by Judy on Jan. 22, 2013 at 2:52 PM

You can laugh out loud or to yourself, some of these moms will never believe that.  They will never get that it is all about the money and very few actually care about the kids.

Quoting MeAndTommyLee:

Dare I laugh out loud.  This is exactly why some of these parents are playing right into the hands of their perspective districts.  They have no idea how many dollars there little darlings are providing the schools on the daily basis.  And it your child is a special needs case, it's like hitting the proverbial jackpot in any Vegas casino for the child. 

Quoting candlegal:

some places get paid by each child that is in school that day.  That is one of the reasons parents now have to go to court if their child misses too many days. The school misses all that money.

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.








pamelax3
by Gold Member on Jan. 22, 2013 at 3:00 PM
1 mom liked this

I agree 100%  


Quoting kailu1835:

Just one more example of the god complex of the state. Those are HER children, not the state's. It is not up to the state to decide what is the best schooling environment for the children, it is the mother's. I'm glad she won. I hope it serves as an example.


 

MeAndTommyLee
by Platinum Member on Jan. 22, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Live and learn, my friend.  When I was a young mother I started out idealistic about an awful lot from what the doctors told me to be gospel and that schools knew and wanted the very best for my child.  As I aged, matured and experienced the institutions that life thrusts us towards, I realized that money is the true motivation for nearly everything.  Nothing is exempt from your child's health to education.  Anyone that does not believe that their child is a money maker for their particular state is naive. 


Quoting candlegal:

You can laugh out loud or to yourself, some of these moms will never believe that.  They will never get that it is all about the money and very few actually care about the kids.

Quoting MeAndTommyLee:

Dare I laugh out loud.  This is exactly why some of these parents are playing right into the hands of their perspective districts.  They have no idea how many dollars there little darlings are providing the schools on the daily basis.  And it your child is a special needs case, it's like hitting the proverbial jackpot in any Vegas casino for the child. 

Quoting candlegal:

some places get paid by each child that is in school that day.  That is one of the reasons parents now have to go to court if their child misses too many days. The school misses all that money.

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.


 

 


 

 



 

MaySheWillStay
by on Jan. 22, 2013 at 3:42 PM
1 mom liked this

I'm wondering if there's not more to the story.

The HSLDA isn't exactly known for reporting the unbiased truth. This whole article reads like an advertisement for their legal services, with a healthy dose of "OMG HOMESCHOOLERS ARE PERSECUTED! PARENTAL RIGHTS UNDERMINED! PANIC!!!!" paranoia as well.

I lived in Colorado for 4 years, it's a very homeschool and even unschool friendly state. Certainly one overzealous social worker can screw up, but if it's gotten through the ranks of the system and into the courts, something else is going on there. One overzealous social worker cannot push a case all the way through to the courts without others checking them, assessing the case, and agreeing that intervention is necessary.

You can fail at one level of the system, even multiple levels, but as much as disdain as I have for it, failure at every single level of the system resulting in pure, unadulterated persecution of a completely innocent person with no questionable issues in regards to her children's education, safety or care, is not something I find particularly plausible.


*I homeschool, by the way, so this is not from someone who is pro-public or anti-homeschooler in any way. I'm just trying to view it with a skeptical eye, as I believe everyone should when reading things published and spun by the HSLDA.

LindaClement
by Thatwoman on Jan. 22, 2013 at 5:03 PM

Because everyone knows that public school cures learning disabilities...

LindaClement
by Thatwoman on Jan. 22, 2013 at 5:05 PM
1 mom liked this

I'm with you.

I was never welcome to join HSLDA --partly because we unschool, which they oppose, but primarily because I would never sign the statement of faith.

I don't know if that's changed, but they are often grinding their axe on school-at-home requirements I disagree with, so I stopped caring about joining...

Quoting MaySheWillStay:

I'm wondering if there's not more to the story.

The HSLDA isn't exactly known for reporting the unbiased truth. This whole article reads like an advertisement for their legal services, with a healthy dose of "OMG HOMESCHOOLERS ARE PERSECUTED! PARENTAL RIGHTS UNDERMINED! PANIC!!!!" paranoia as well.

I lived in Colorado for 4 years, it's a very homeschool and even unschool friendly state. Certainly one overzealous social worker can screw up, but if it's gotten through the ranks of the system and into the courts, something else is going on there. One overzealous social worker cannot push a case all the way through to the courts without others checking them, assessing the case, and agreeing that intervention is necessary.

You can fail at one level of the system, even multiple levels, but as much as disdain as I have for it, failure at every single level of the system resulting in pure, unadulterated persecution of a completely innocent person with no questionable issues in regards to her children's education, safety or care, is not something I find particularly plausible.


*I homeschool, by the way, so this is not from someone who is pro-public or anti-homeschooler in any way. I'm just trying to view it with a skeptical eye, as I believe everyone should when reading things published and spun by the HSLDA.


LindaClement
by Thatwoman on Jan. 22, 2013 at 5:07 PM

I think it's worth pointing out that a lot of 'in school' moms have the wrong motivation, too. You can see evidence of it every August when the 'little monsters are going away again' partying starts in ads and across the internet...

Quoting lga1965:

 That's wonderful for you and good for your Mom. That is excellent!

But you're making this too personal and not considering that there could be more to this story and admitting that other home schooling moms might have the wrong motivation , reasons for home schooling and lack the ability to teach their kids.

Quoting kailu1835:

None of the answers to your questions matter. It is her right to homeschool, regardless of her reasons for doing so. You do not need a college degree to follow a curriculum. I know that's so totally un-PC, and I'm sure the teachers' unions would love to have my head over such a statement, but regardless, it is true. I was homeschooled by mom mom prior to being told she had to put me into public school, and I was 2 years ahead of the other kindergarteners. I went to a coop school for 7th, 9th, and 10th grades, and the parents taught the classes. None had any degrees. When I graduated, it was at the age of 16, and I was still well ahead of my peers.

Quoting lga1965:

 


Quoting LucyMom08:

It seems like there is some information missing from this article...

 I agree.


Here's what I wonder: Did the neighbors know something that only a neighbor who has the opportunity to observe could know? Can this homeschooling Mom prove she actually knows how to home school? Is there something we don't know?


I agree that it is everyone's choice to home school. BUT are these children being educated or merely protected from others and sheilded from the variety of viewpoints that are introduced in Public Schools?


 And, are parents really so thoroughly trained and educated that they really CAN decide what is best for their children and ignore those in the Education Systems and their advice? My worry is that a Mom with barely a high school education will ,on the basis of her own bias against schools, decide she knows more than Educators and keep her kids home, theoretically,but not actually,  "home schooling" them.


 

 


MaySheWillStay
by on Jan. 22, 2013 at 5:10 PM

They actually want you to sign a statement of faith!? I had no idea they were that loony. And I thought they were loony to begin with.

Didn't know they were specifically anti-unschool either, I just thought they were pro-package curriculum, and pro-religious curriculums in general. We're unschool-ish as well.

Quoting LindaClement:

I'm with you.

I was never welcome to join HSLDA --partly because we unschool, which they oppose, but primarily because I would never sign the statement of faith.

I don't know if that's changed, but they are often grinding their axe on school-at-home requirements I disagree with, so I stopped caring about joining...

Quoting MaySheWillStay:

I'm wondering if there's not more to the story.

The HSLDA isn't exactly known for reporting the unbiased truth. This whole article reads like an advertisement for their legal services, with a healthy dose of "OMG HOMESCHOOLERS ARE PERSECUTED! PARENTAL RIGHTS UNDERMINED! PANIC!!!!" paranoia as well.

I lived in Colorado for 4 years, it's a very homeschool and even unschool friendly state. Certainly one overzealous social worker can screw up, but if it's gotten through the ranks of the system and into the courts, something else is going on there. One overzealous social worker cannot push a case all the way through to the courts without others checking them, assessing the case, and agreeing that intervention is necessary.

You can fail at one level of the system, even multiple levels, but as much as disdain as I have for it, failure at every single level of the system resulting in pure, unadulterated persecution of a completely innocent person with no questionable issues in regards to her children's education, safety or care, is not something I find particularly plausible.


*I homeschool, by the way, so this is not from someone who is pro-public or anti-homeschooler in any way. I'm just trying to view it with a skeptical eye, as I believe everyone should when reading things published and spun by the HSLDA.



LindaClement
by Thatwoman on Jan. 22, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Admittedly it was a long time ago -- my kids are 23 and 21 now. I haven't looked into it beyond the first glance, but it was true then.

Quoting MaySheWillStay:

They actually want you to sign a statement of faith!? I had no idea they were that loony. And I thought they were loony to begin with.

Didn't know they were specifically anti-unschool either, I just thought they were pro-package curriculum, and pro-religious curriculums in general. We're unschool-ish as well.

Quoting LindaClement:

I'm with you.

I was never welcome to join HSLDA --partly because we unschool, which they oppose, but primarily because I would never sign the statement of faith.

I don't know if that's changed, but they are often grinding their axe on school-at-home requirements I disagree with, so I stopped caring about joining...

Quoting MaySheWillStay:

I'm wondering if there's not more to the story.

The HSLDA isn't exactly known for reporting the unbiased truth. This whole article reads like an advertisement for their legal services, with a healthy dose of "OMG HOMESCHOOLERS ARE PERSECUTED! PARENTAL RIGHTS UNDERMINED! PANIC!!!!" paranoia as well.

I lived in Colorado for 4 years, it's a very homeschool and even unschool friendly state. Certainly one overzealous social worker can screw up, but if it's gotten through the ranks of the system and into the courts, something else is going on there. One overzealous social worker cannot push a case all the way through to the courts without others checking them, assessing the case, and agreeing that intervention is necessary.

You can fail at one level of the system, even multiple levels, but as much as disdain as I have for it, failure at every single level of the system resulting in pure, unadulterated persecution of a completely innocent person with no questionable issues in regards to her children's education, safety or care, is not something I find particularly plausible.


*I homeschool, by the way, so this is not from someone who is pro-public or anti-homeschooler in any way. I'm just trying to view it with a skeptical eye, as I believe everyone should when reading things published and spun by the HSLDA.




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