From the Hartford Advocate:

Connecticut students must spend a minimum number of days in their classrooms each year, or face penalties ranging from failing grades to truancy charges. For kids with medical problems, meeting these attendance requirements can be a challenge.

Some parents who have chosen to homeschool such children claim they’re being harassed for it, after their children’s former schools reported them to the Department of Children and Families for truancy and educational neglect.

“These are not isolated instances,” says Deborah Stevenson, director of the National Home Education Legal Defense (and attorney for the cases mentioned here). “Apparently, these instances are becoming quite routine.”

You can read the whole story here. NHELD will hold a press conference today “addressing the abuses” of DCF and the state Dept. of Education.

10 Responses to “DCF Harassing Homeschoolers?”

  1. on 08 Jun 2007 at 7:08 amSteve

    “Did they have permission to homeschool?” Kleeblatt asked.

    No. Stevenson says it isn’t needed.

    “You’re just assuming everything you’re being told is accurate,” Kleeblatt replied. “I’m assuming someone who homeschools has to tell the state [and] show the state the curriculum.”

    Fine, let’s assume that. What curriculum must the parents show?

    That’s for the Board of Education to say, Kleeblatt replied. “If you want to know the requirements, I’m not the one you should ask.”

    But if DCF doesn’t know the requirements, how do they know what to look for when they suspect parents aren’t meeting them?

    Kleeblatt paused. “I’ll have to get back to you on that.”

    Nice. Does anyone at DCF know anything about the law, or do they all just make things up as they go?

    The damage done by the state to these families far outwieghs any “educational neglect” (and whatever subjectively obscure variations of “neglect”) that may occur in the eyes of DCF. This is yet another example of strong-armed liberalism run amok.

  2. on 08 Jun 2007 at 7:43 amSimon

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    Imagine this story – A student is sick well beyond the average number of day expected even for the worst case. Sick note follows sick note. The school is concerned so they ask for a release to talk to the Doctor to verify the illness(es). As mandatory reporters, maybe they feel an obligation to investigate. Maybe they are just concerned about a student who seems more sick than usual. The School nurse has raised concerns about what has become pattern illness – possibly indicating problems at home. Probably a perfectly good explanation, but better safe than sorry.

    Mom refuses, objecting to the request on the grounds of privacy.

    School relents, but notifies DCF. Mom, tired of the harassment, homeschools. DCRF stays out of it – not wanting to harass a person that makes the choice to homeschool (which 99 times out of 100 is a choice that is great for the student).

    One month later, the child dies. Maybe it was an unremediated environmental problem, maybe it was abuse, maybe it was post partum depression related to the birth of the student’s sibling.

    I wonder what people would say about DCF then.

    Look, I think most would agree that homeschooling can be great for families and kids alike. But to suggest that DCF is harassing someone because they are homeschooling when the decision to homeschool only came after a pattern of illnesses is just irresponsible. I suspect there is a rational explanation. But DCF has to look at all 100 cases, just to save that 1 kid that needs its help.

    So, easy there on the rhetoric big boy. This is not a crusade against home schooling, and you know it. Your campaign can only result in less protection for kids. Does that make any sense?

  3. on 08 Jun 2007 at 8:06 amSteve

    Check out the press conference. It is amazing what these families are going through at the hands of DCF. “Brownshirts” comes to mind watching this…


  4. on 08 Jun 2007 at 8:46 amSteve

    Imagine this story…

    That’s exactly what you’ll have to do Simon, because nothing of what you said has happened. These parents have bent over backwards; they have doctors supporting their stories and have made every effort to reasonably cooperate – but it seems that mere cooperation and operating within the law isn’t enough for the folks with a personal agenda (and power) at DCF.

  5. on 08 Jun 2007 at 1:00 pmSimon


    I am not saying (or even trying to imply) that my scenario is what happened here. However, I know when a kids gets hurt and DCF had some knowledge of risk factors but didn’t investigate, it gets very ugly for them.

    I suspect that the vast majority at DCF are trying to do the right thing by the kids.

  6. on 08 Jun 2007 at 4:12 pmDave

    Some more background information on this subject can be found in:

    Judy Aron’s May 31st posting on her blog, “Consent of the Governed”

    Christine’s article on her blog, “The Thinking Mother”

    Beyond the ineptitude of DCF, the underlying theme here is an open hostility to homeschooling among those in the public school system. It smacks of administrators who are on a power trip to control the lives of other people, and unwarranted retribution against parents who assert their rights under the law. Quite honestly, it sounds like the solution is for those who file such unjustified charges with DCF to be held liable for harassment.

  7. on 08 Jun 2007 at 11:20 pmNaCN


    DCF, being a large and cumbersome bureaucracy, has developed a culture of playing it safe rather than doing the right thing by the kids. That is why DCF was sued by parents, multiple times, and lost, multiple times. That is why DCF was put under federal court supervision until they are able to show that they are in fact doing the right thing by the kids. That was, wow, five years ago? DCF has made progress in meeting the court-established performance measures but still falls short of several.

    My experience is that young idealistict people go to work for DCF and within a few short years the system wears them down. Ask any former employee. I have witnessed several DCF employees lie to protect their jobs or take shortcuts to make their jobs easier at the expense of the children. Part of that is due to the impossible caseloads per worker, which the court ordered to be slashed. The real believers struggle on but too many sucumb and become time-card punchers. It has gotten much better but is still a problem.

  8. on 11 Jun 2007 at 10:42 amSimon


    No disagreement from me on any of your points.

  9. on 13 Jun 2007 at 6:53 amJudy Aron

    For those who wish to “think” that DCF might be saving a child’s life in these instances.. you are very sadly mistaken..they are making theses kids lives more miserable. Most of those sick kids have anxiety issues caused by the unchecked bullying in school which the school does nothing to address. The school would prefer the kid comes back to be further tortured, rather than be peacefully learning at home. To top it off, the school and DCF come off with all other allegations and threats to force these kids and their parents to comply. It is disgusting on so many levels. This has nothing to do with “what is best for the kids” and all to do with being able to continue getting state and federal money for kids with special needs! And you can take that one to the bank!

    A case in point regarding intentional harassment and discrimination regarding homeschoolers is the massive truancy problems in Waterbury – typical 19 UNEXCUSED absences of these kids and yet the school does not report THEM to DCF ! Why? because they are enrolled and controlled by the schools.

    A further proof of the intentional harassment of schools – whereby they use DCF as the “mob heavies” – is that with the 25 homeschool cases referred to them, so far 23 have been UNSUBSTANTIATED! If that doesn’t smell of schools filing intentional false claims – for which they should be prosecuted, then I do not know what does. And DCF refuses to uphold the law and prosecute those school administrators for their crimes!

  10. on 25 Jun 2007 at 1:53 pmopal

    I have a child with a chronic medical condition and I will choose to skip specifics. Before I made the choice to homeschool, I went online and asked parents in a national site devoted to said child’s illness about their experiences in school. Well, I bought curricula the next day…..

    So many of the parents that I encountered online have been harassed repeatedly by their schools, social workers and DCF, when all the information explaining their child’s life and history is sitting in the IEP plan. Doctors at major medical institutions are stuck write note of explanation after note that the schools, social workers or DCF lose or ignore. I know of at least 2 children in this country who were transplant patients recieving wonderful care who ended up losing their transplant because DCF mistakenly intervened-ignoring the doctors, specialists and peditricians entirely-pulled the patients out of their home and placed them somewhere else while studying the families. In both cases the foster families were not well notified about the child’s med regiment, didn’t follow it up, and a rejection event followed. My son’s superspecialist, was pleased that he probably would not have to waste time explaining to the school system over and over again that infections, issues, etc. were a direct result of life saving medical treatment and not neglect or abuse. Super doc has been rather frustrated lately, in the number times that social workers and ignorant school nurses decide that they know better.

    While I do agree that DCF is in a lose/lose position, and really feel sorry for anyone working for them. We as a society need to stop assuming that parents are doing the wrong thing -all the time. How much time has DCF wasted harassing good familes that doctors vouch for when they could have been saving the truely abused child.


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