An African-American single mom was arrested and had her children taken away from her by the state simply because she removed them from New York’s Buffalo Public School District, the distraught woman has claimed. Kiarre Harris’ children were sent to foster care, and she has not seen them for more than three weeks.
“I felt that the district was failing my children and that’s when I made the decision to homeschool,” Kiarre Harris said during an interview with WKBW. Harris said her children were simply not thriving at the local struggling elementary school.
— Ken Nixon PhD, JD (@docnixon) February 9, 2017
Harris said she filed the necessary paperwork to remove her two young children from public school for the purpose of homeschooling them. The single mom provided the letter of intent dated December 7 and marked “received” by the district when speaking with local reporters.
When Kiarre Harris took the letter to the school office, she also reportedly met with the Buffalo Public School District’s homeschool coordinator, the Blaze reports.
“I spoke directly to the homeschool coordinator and she told me from this point on my children were officially unenrolled from school,” Harris said.
The Buffalo mom’s shocking ordeal began just one week after she removed her children from public school. The Child Protective Services department called Harris to question why her two young children had not been attending school. The New York mom said she informed the staffer her children were now being homeschooled, and she could provide the paperwork she had filed with the district to prove they were being properly educated.
Kiarre Harris thought the matter had been resolved, but that turned out not to be the case. Less than one month after the phone call from Child Protective Services, caseworkers with police officers by their side showed up at her home. The single mom said she was told they possessed a court order to remove the children from the home due to educational neglect.
Harris told local media outlets she had asked to see a copy of the court order but was not provided with one. The mother refused to let the Child Protective Services workers and the police officers take her children. She was ultimately arrested on obstruction charges, and the children were taken away from their college-educated mother by the government workers and placed into the foster care system.
— Dave Thompson (@DaveWKBW) February 7, 2017
Buffalo City Councilman Ulysees O. Wingo Sr. appears to be on Harris’ side. He called the removal of the children from their mother’s care “utterly unacceptable.” Wingo also urged Family Court to immediately return the two children to their home.
The New York city councilman said the “educational neglect” charge appears to have been solely based upon the mother’s decision to remove the children from public school in favor of educating them at home.
“Did anyone from the school reach out to the mother? We don’t know,” Wingo stated. “A family was broken up because of someone’s negligence, somewhere along the line paperwork was not submitted which resulted in trauma for a family in the City of Buffalo.”
Buffalo Public School District officials maintain a parent must have full custody of a child before removing them from the public education system for homeschooling purposes. Kiarre Harris staunchly maintains she has always had full custody of her two children.
“Someone, somewhere messed up,” Wingo also said. “And that someone needs to face the music. This does not pass the smell test. The trauma that these children are going through without being with their mother is unconscionable if you ask me. This can happen to anyone.”
School district officials also maintain an individual education plan must be filed before a student can be homeschooled. Harris said she submitted the required education plan to the district before removing her children. It remains unclear if the education plans were approved before the children stopped attending public school, or if the district tried to contact Harris to inform her to bring the children back to school until the plans were approved if indeed they had not been.
Harris went to court on Wednesday to request the return of her children. An Erie County judge denied her request and allotted her only two hours per week of supervised visits with her children with a Catholic Charities worker in the room at the same time, WKBW also reports.
“I requested the immediate vacation of the order that removed them from their mother’s custody,” Vanessa Guite, Harris’ attorney, said. “Or in the alternative, unsupervised visitation and another attorney suggested that my client’s mother be the supervisor and that was rejected by the court as well.”
The attorney said the allegations raised during the hearing are “baseless” and do not amount to the children having been place in “imminent danger.”
Do you think the New York public school district was retaliating against Kiarre Harris because she pulled her children out of the district to homeschool them?
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