CPS took my children...please help me - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 34 Old 08-28-2010, 03:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok so one week into my private school for my son and I need to get all of my documents in order. I guess I should have known better than to excersice my civil rights in a county with a personal grudge.
CPS came to my home last night to investigate reports of my son not being in school from neighbors.
I showed them the documents that they are aloud to see...ie the attendance form...and the lady walked to the sidewalk and called for police backup. She pushed past me and walk through my house and said "okay so you have covered your ass there" her words not mine, and said without even looking around or at the environment "this house is unsafe the children are all being neglected and are in immediate danger" My jaw dropped. The house is cluttered but not dirty. There is food in the fridge and all 4 of my children are well taken care of.
She loaded them into her van and left them there screaming while she and now 8 police officers walked thru the house searching through things. They went to my room and found a couple empty button type baggies in a box full of seeds. The bags came with seeds in them. The seperated them and layed them on the bed and took pictures of them saying "look drug parifinalia" I begged them to test for residue or to bring dogs or anything. They wouldnt listen.
They continued through the house and found a window that the kids broke the day before. Their was a five and a half foot tall hutch pushed in front of it and the glass is on order but is a very large piece so couldnt be fixed immediatly. They said it put the children in danger even though they couldnt get to it.

They wouldnt tell me what I have to do to get them back. They said to go to court Tuesday and the judge will decide.
This makes no sense to me how can they take my children? A broken window they should give you time to fix right? I showed them the receipt where I ordered the glass.
I am completely lost. I have never been away from them. They are just babies they are 1, 2, 3, and 6 years old.

This morning they took the children to a Catholic church and I specifically told them it was against my religion. They sent me pictured of my babies sitting there with the christ on the cross thing in the background I guess to mock me.
They told me they are taking my oldest home schooled son to school monday and that I have no rights to stop them. I tried to tell them this is a temporary placement until the judge declares it unfounded and that they have no right to do this to them. They are violating there and my constitutional rights and rubbing it in my face.
I know obviously I will need to get a lawyer but do I have any right or way to prevent them from taking my children to church and to school?
I tried talking to the worker and she wont tell me anything. Tells me I have no rights and that they are doing what is best for the children like I should have been doing.
I pride myself on my children. I am a very involved mother. My oldest boy has mental illnesses that make public school not an option. He has been diagnosed and is even on medication. My youngest daughter was born at 28 weeks and is considerably behind for her age.
I do tons of growing and canning and try to teach the children to be self reliant and sufficient. I try to be as hand on and natural a parent as possible. I would consider myself a good person and parent and have always been there for my children.
I dont know what to do..or who to talk to..I got to talk to my oldest boy this morning and didn't know I was on speaker phone and told him to tell me is she was mean to him. I had young cousins who were in foster care for a few weeks and were badly abused. Duct tapped to chairs and gagged like. The foster parents were put in jail but the kids were to little to even tell. If a CPS person hadnt made a suprise visit and found them that way nobody would have known.
The lady took the phone from him and told me not to talk about her like that...remembering all i said was tell me if shes mean...and hung up on me and called the social worker and told her I didnt get to be on the phone with them anymore.


Sorry to be so long. Thanks for reading. Anyone have any ideas about what my rights are? can I stop the school and church attendance?

Please help me.

Stephanie
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#2 of 34 Old 08-28-2010, 03:40 AM
 
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Wow, I wish I had advise! I don't have any experience with this, however. I do suggest hiring the best lawyer you can as soon as possible. I would look into lawyers with experience in this type of case as well. I would write the editor of the newspaper, as well. I would basically be screaming from the rooftops, making the biggest impression possible to make my city aware of what's happening. From what you described, that sounds very very wrong! I wouldn't keep it under wraps, I would fight it and make it known. I would get letters from every person I could, verifying who you are, your character, the kind of mother you are, etc.

Beyond that, I don't know what else to say besides I'm deeply sorry that you and your poor children are going through. How awful, scary and tragic. I do hope this resolved quickly. (((((((((((((((((hugs))))))))))))))))))

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#3 of 34 Old 08-28-2010, 03:56 AM
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if the foster parents are catholic, then it is likely that it is within the purview of their caregiving to take the children to church with them. so, even if it is against your religion, i think they can do that. it is also normal for children in foster care to go to school. so, it is within the state's rights.

i would definitely get a good lawyer and see what s/he can do for you.

i'm sorry that you are going through this. it is an absolute horror! *hugs to you*
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#4 of 34 Old 08-28-2010, 04:17 AM
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I agree with zoebird that you need a lawyer.

When I worked with children who had been removed from their parents custody, the agencies I worked with were very respectful of the religious beliefs of parents whose rights had not been terminated. In the US, at least, children in foster care have first amendment rights to freedom of religion. It's a pretty big deal for foster parents to try to indoctrinate a child into their religion, especially if the parents' rights have not been terminated. Your rights have not been terminated - that process takes years and you haven't even been to court once. I wonder if maybe the kids weren't at a church service. It's not Sunday. There's no law against CPS working with a church-affiliated agency or using a facility in a church to meet with foster parents and children or conduct other, basically secular, activities. The Catholic Church does a lot of social work in some parts of the country.

Obviously, you can't tell the whole story of something this complex and emotional in a single message board post. But I wonder if, really, the picture was meant to reassure you that your kids are OK, not to flaunt the agency's power to violate your constitutional rights. Regardless of who is in the right, here, you are probably going to need to cooperate with CPS to regain custody of your children. CPS is not on your side, but it may help you get through the process faster if you can frame their actions as having a purpose (albeit one you may legitimately disagree with) rather than being intended to taunt you.
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#5 of 34 Old 08-28-2010, 09:52 AM
 
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i would also get a good attorney. i would make sure the window is fixed asap & your house was spotless....not sure that's necessary, but it certainly won't hurt. lastly, what state are you in? you will get the best advice if we know what laws pertain to you. i can't imagine going through that. i'm so sorry. hugs.

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#6 of 34 Old 08-28-2010, 09:55 AM
 
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WTH!! Does this seriously happen to families for the reasons you stated? I'm just in a state of disbelief and horror. They can just barge into your house and go through it like that??? I'm so sorry you and your children are going through this. I have no other words, just compassion and empathy for your situation.

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#7 of 34 Old 08-28-2010, 10:00 AM
 
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WHAT??! I'm sorry, mama, but don't have any advice for you. I'm not even in the US but please please listen to the wise mamas here and get a lawyer. Or something. I don';t know..I'm so enraged for you!
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#8 of 34 Old 08-28-2010, 10:02 AM
 
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Oh my I am just sending love and action vibes to make sure you get the things done you need to (the window, decluttering etc.) and hope your children are returned to you swiftly. If you were near me mama I would give you a hand. Please don't be afraid to ask for help, you're going through a lot right now emotionally!

here's to hoping for a positive update soon!

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#9 of 34 Old 08-28-2010, 11:14 AM
 
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Isnt there a group of lawyers that defend homeschoolers? Id get an attorney ASAP and contact news agencies ect.

I hope you get your kids back soon!
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#10 of 34 Old 08-28-2010, 11:27 AM
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I remember from your last thread that you live in California... I would contact HSC and see if perhaps they can suggest a lawyer for you.

 
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#11 of 34 Old 08-28-2010, 11:39 AM
 
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Absolutely seek legal counsel... And raise a whole lotta he!!

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#12 of 34 Old 08-28-2010, 11:50 AM
 
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I think you have a right to a court appointed attorney. Do you belong to HSDLA? You may want to call them anyway.

I am so sorry!!!!!(((((hugs))))) Keep the pictures of the baby at that Catholic church. Keep the baggies they took pictures of and everything. But most of all, get a lawyer fast. Can they do this in your state? They cannot even do this where I live. I know in some states, they are awful and can do these things. Where are you? When you get your children back, can you relocate? Does your state allow you to pick where your children are placed, as in family or friends? If so, pick someone you trust to be their guardians while this is being settled.
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#13 of 34 Old 08-28-2010, 11:51 AM
 
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I was guessing you are in California. Do call HSDLA. They helped another non-member family recently in that state where the state pulled similar stuff.
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#14 of 34 Old 08-28-2010, 12:11 PM
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She pushed past me and walk through my house
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now 8 police officers walked thru the house searching through things.
Wait, wait, wait. Did you see a warrant to search your house? Surely, this is illegal.....

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#15 of 34 Old 08-28-2010, 01:09 PM
 
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Wait, wait, wait. Did you see a warrant to search your house? Surely, this is illegal.....

That's what I was thinking. Unless your children were in immediate danger, they had no right to enter your home without permission.

I hope his nightmare ends soon, OP. I can't even imagine.

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#16 of 34 Old 08-28-2010, 01:23 PM
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The police can search your home without a warrant if, while they are at your house, they see what they consider evidence of a crime in plain view.

So, in this case, the warrant-less search may have been legal. I don't know what the OP's house looks like and what she has going on. However, a social worker removing children from a home in what she considered exigent circumstances would have to call the police. The OP states that this happened. Depending on what the cops saw, they may have decided evidence of a crime was in plain sight and they needed to conduct a further search. Again, I don't know what the OP's house looks like. But, suppose that, when the cops arrived, they saw an assortment of household chemicals and over-the-counter medications on a table in the kitchen or living area. They may have felt this was evidence that the household contained a meth lab and decided to conduct a search based on what they thought was criminal evidence in plain view. Child abuse and neglect are also crimes, and if the police saw what they and/or the social worker considered evidence of that crime in plain view, that alone may have justified a further search.

Depending on the situation, the police may have felt they had exigent circumstances which would also make a warrant-less search permissible.

Objecting to the lack of a warrant when the police entered the home to remove minor children from a perceived dangerous situation (no matter how misguided that perception might have been) is probably not a good use of energy here. The OP needs to get the window fixed, get her house decluttered, make sure she has enough food, and prepare to demonstrate to a judge that her home is safe. Arguing over the warrant is not going to accomplish any of that.
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#17 of 34 Old 08-28-2010, 01:30 PM
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The police can search your home without a warrant if, while they are at your house, they see what they consider evidence of a crime in plain view.

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aid without even looking around or at the environment "this house is unsafe the children are all being neglected and are in immediate danger"

Ah, that's why she probably said this--to justify an immediate search without a warrant. However, surely there must be SOMETHING specific in order to do this. And I know that cases get thrown out of court when a search was conducted without a warrant and without sufficient justification.


Quote:
Depending on the situation, the police may have felt they had exigent circumstances which would also make a warrant-less search permissible.
But I would think that they still have to prove that in order for the search to hold up in court.


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The OP needs to get the window fixed, get her house decluttered, make sure she has enough food, and prepare to demonstrate to a judge that her home is safe.
Yes, I agree with this. But I still think I would ask a lawyer about the possible illegal search. If they can't justify it, it would have to be thrown out. At least I would hope so. Maybe I am naive....

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#18 of 34 Old 08-28-2010, 01:43 PM
 
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stik, I absolutely understand how the law works wrt entering a private property and searching one's home. I mentioned it (and quoted a PP), b/c it sounds like there are some missing pieces of the story we aren't aware of. I mean, if a social worker showed up at my home, we'd likely be chatting on my porch or inside the entry way if it was cold - so I'm trying to imagine what the SW saw to warrant such concern and swift action. I'm not suggesting the OP focus on whether or not it was legal; obviously her big issue right now is getting her babies back home (so, TBH, the church/school issue wouldn't even be on my radar).

Just trying to get a better understanding of the situation. Homeschoolers shouldn't be fearing CPS simply b/c their kids aren't in school.

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#19 of 34 Old 08-28-2010, 01:45 PM
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If the OP believes that the police conducted an illegal search of her house, she can sue for violation of her fourth amendment rights after she regains custody of her children. "The cops should never have been in my house in the first place," is not an argument that will get the case tossed and the children returned if the judge thinks the environment is unsafe.

Right or wrong, now that the children are in CPS custody, CPS can come up with TONS of evidence that the home situation was dangerous - interviews, medical examinations, medical records or the absence thereof, the social worker's notes on her observations of the home - they have a lot of options. The police search can easily be irrelevant to the outcome of the case.
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#20 of 34 Old 08-28-2010, 02:04 PM
 
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I'm so very sorry, mama!

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#21 of 34 Old 08-28-2010, 04:55 PM
 
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I'm so sorry this is happening to you! I don't live in the US and don't know the legal specifics, but I do know that in situations like this, you should focus on cooperating with the CPS. Never mind the church, school and things like that for the moment, they are of minor importance compared to getting your children home as soon as possible. I would make sure I had a trustworthy, calm, adult person with me to meetings with the CPS to act as my support. Apart from that I would do whatever they told me to do in order to get my children home.

I hope it all works out for you as soon as possible.
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#22 of 34 Old 08-28-2010, 10:49 PM
 
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Originally Posted by SDorsey86 View Post
Ok so one week into my private school for my son and I need to get all of my documents in order. I guess I should have known better than to excersice my civil rights in a county with a personal grudge.
What do you mean by saying that the county has a personal grudge...have you had trouble with CPS there before ? Or is the county notoriously hard on homeschoolers ?

IMO you need to retain a family law attorney who has experience with homeschooling clients ASAP. Perhaps there is a homeschooling association in your state that has a list of attorneys who are recommended.

Here, I found this:

http://www.hsc.org/contactbycps.php

"If you ever have any hostile contacts regarding homeschooling, please inform an HSC board member. HSC maintains a list of attorneys and experts with experience in these areas or can assist your attorney with homeschooling questions."

Here is the link to the page to email the board members:

http://www.hsc.org/boardofdirectors.php

I would email them all as this is an emergency, so you can get lawyer info ASAP and start leaving phone messages to retain a lawyer as quickly as possible. Just having an attorney retained to show up at the hearing might be a big help.

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#23 of 34 Old 08-29-2010, 12:29 AM
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SDorsey86, I understand that you are in a really scary situation and are very concerned about your children. I really think, though, that homeschooling has nothing to do with it. Only one of your kids is of school age, and the social worker told you that wasn't the issue.

You've said the county has a grudge against you. Laundrycrisis already asked, and I am also wondering what makes you think that. Has your household had a lot of interaction with county agencies for any reason?
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#24 of 34 Old 08-29-2010, 01:35 AM
 
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OP- Please ASAP get a video camera, even if you have to borrow one, and have it on hand and charged. If they show up on your doorstep VIDEOTAPE EVERYTHING make sure you post a note on your front door that videotaping in process to basically "CYA" if someone later says they didnt know. If cps/police seem interested in one thing in particular (i.e cleanliness of kitchen) make sure you tape every.single.thing in that kitchen.

like others have stated you need a lawyer ASAP. Did they give you an indication of what their "concerns" were (you mentioned the seeds) what else? If you are not able to get a lawyer by your hearing I would make sure that at the least you make huge efforts to show the judge that you have addressed those issues (even if you think they are bs). For instance if they said the house was dirty I would make sure that you literally scrub down the house, ask friends to help see how much it would be to have someone come over to clean professsionally at least to help you along. Take tons of pics to show the judge the home now. Take pics of your fully stocked fridge heck even the clothes closet/drawers. They think your doing drugs because of the "seeds" take a drug test most labs will be able to give you results within 24hrs and proof. My line is that I'd do everything in my power to get my kids now before they trully enter the system, statistically it is much easier at this point to squash the cps giant (coming from a FP)
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#25 of 34 Old 08-29-2010, 02:11 AM
 
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What a scary story! You are in California, right? I remember you posted the other night about a name for your private school. Stories like this make me so worried, because CA is supposed to be a relatively easy state to homeschool in, and I live in a state that is supposed to be very difficult to homeschool in.

I hope that everything works out, and that you keep us updated. I am not a big fan of the HSLDA, but this sounds like exactly the kind of case they can help you with. I would call them as soon as possible.

The social worker's actions seem so overboard! Calling in eight police officers? Wow, that must have been so scary for you. Does anyone know if that is normal, even in cases where drugs are suspected? Maybe she thought that the broken window was a sign of violence in your house? I'm not saying that it was, but maybe that's how it appeared to her. Do you live with a partner who might be suspected of domestic violence?

Hugs, Mama. I hope that everything works out for the best.

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#26 of 34 Old 08-29-2010, 03:52 AM
 
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I wish I could help you,
Stephanie . Maybe you should cross post this in Parenting, you'd probably get a lot more responses/advice.

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#27 of 34 Old 08-30-2010, 01:08 AM
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I'm returning this with some edits. Please remember to avoid casting suspicion on the OP and keep future posts to suggestions of things she can do now and in the future.

 
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#28 of 34 Old 08-30-2010, 09:03 AM
 
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OP, I'm thinking of you today and hoping you are able to enlist some legal help with getting your kids back.

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#29 of 34 Old 08-30-2010, 12:34 PM
 
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They wouldnt tell me what I have to do to get them back. They said to go to court Tuesday and the judge will decide.
Yes, I believe that the court date is to officially tell you what you need to do so it is on the books for both you and the courts and CPS to refer to.

Quote:
My oldest boy has mental illnesses that make public school not an option. He has been diagnosed and is even on medication. My youngest daughter was born at 28 weeks and is considerably behind for her age.
I know you have more than one early preemie based on your posts here. I'm a mom of special kids, too. From my understanding, one preemie automatically puts a child in a medical high-risk category in the minds of CPS. Two preemies increases the medical risk level. And your oldest having mental issues increases the medical risk level to three. I suggest getting records of all your pregnancies & births, any early intervention services your kids receive, their doctor's appointments, medication lists, etc so you can give them to your lawyer to use as evidence of those medical concerns already being addressed every day.

If they even suspect drugs in a home with that many pre-existing perceived risks, I believe they have to act on it immediately using whatever their protocol is (in this case it was remove the children from a perceived risk first, investigate what specifically needs to be repaired second). The believed drugs added a fourth 'risk' to their list. And when they found not only a broken window, but the glass left out/not cleaned up with developmentally delayed children whose understanding of danger may not be good enough to stay safe, it is very likely that added a fifth risk in their eyes.

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she and now 8 police officers walked thru the house searching through things. They went to my room and found a couple empty button type baggies in a box full of seeds. The bags came with seeds in them. The seperated them and layed them on the bed and took pictures of them saying "look drug parifinalia"
I'm confused/concerned. What kind of seeds were in the baggies that made them immediately think drugs? Are they something we could help you look up online for comparison/debunking info that you can provide your lawyer?

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I dont know what to do..or who to talk to.. Anyone have any ideas about what my rights are? can I stop the school and church attendance?
Like the others have said, definitely get a lawyer. Also, since there are only so many hours in a day, and since lawyers are expensive, I strongly suggest focusing all of your time on working with your lawyer to get a list of what specifically you need to do with your home and your daily routine to get yourself deemed 'safe' again. Then start doing them right away and contact your lawyer again when you are done to make sure you've met all the conditions 'just right.'

Right now, you only have control over yourself and what you need to do. Don't waste precious time and effort on things like trying to change someone else's routine/block school attendance. Yes, it's not what you want, but you can always homeschool again when you get them back home. But you've got to prioritize what to do first because you won't get them back home until you change whatever it is that has your home environment or life situation labeled inappropriate and unsafe. KWIM?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SDorsey86 View Post
I guess I should have known better than to excersice my civil rights in a county with a personal grudge.
Can you be more specific about this? What state and county are you in? What do you feel is the personal grudge against you? With more info we may have better suggestions of what to ask your lawyer.

Wife of 1. Mom of 3. Conquering disability challenges, one achievement at a time.
 

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#30 of 34 Old 08-30-2010, 07:06 PM
 
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I'm with the other poster who said to cross post to parenting. Perhaps you could ask the mods to move this.. I think i'ts more than a homeschooling issue.

Best of luck. KUP.

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