Imagine the terror that you would experience if your neighbor decided they knew what was best for your kids and then made an anonymous telephone call to Social Services to complain that you are homeschooling your children. What would you do when Social Services showed up at your front door and demanded the right to inspect your home and interview your family? This is exactly what happened to Josslyn Kittinger (name changed to protect privacy), a single mother in Colorado, who eventually found herself in court, fighting for the custody of her children.
Ms. Kittinger is an experienced homeschooler who knows all about the legal war being waged on families who choose to homeschool their children. She asked the social worker to wait and then called the Home School Legal Defense Association. After speaking with Attorney Mike Donnelly, she acted on his legal advice, and politely asked the social worker to leave.
Unfortunately, the case did not end here. The neighbor persisted with the complaints, claiming Ms. Kittinger was not was able able to properly educate her children, some of whom are learning disabled. This uninformed criticism of homeschooling flies in the face of a vast amount of research that proves learning disabled children often do better in a one on one environment.
Not only did the social worker fail to close the case, but after conducting a drive by of the Kittinger home, the social worker made the erroneous assumption that the Kittinger family was preparing to flee the state. The social worker filed a motion and obtained a verbal order from the local court to take the Kittinger children into state custody.
In this particular case, the hard pressed Kittinger family was extremely lucky. The mother was able to contact the nation’s leading advocates for homeschooling and receive outstanding legal assistance. HSLDA appeared in court with the family and won a landmark victory on behalf of M.s Kittinger and her children.
The social worker, after several court ordered visits with the Kittingers, found that there was no evidence of educational neglect and convinced the Prosecutors to drop the case. Ms. Kittinger retained custody of her children and won the right in court to continue to homeschool her children.
Attorney Mike Donnelly spoke about the significance of the Kittinger family’s victory in this case:
“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. How would this single mother have defended herself? 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. 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!”
Other homeschoolers have not been as lucky as the Kittingers. There are families in many states fighting a legal battle over homeschooling; especially when the parents are outspoken about their religious beliefs. In Europe, the situation is far worse. Germany still enforces laws against homeschooling written by Adolph Hitler’s government that make homeschooling a crime against the state.
In Sweden, the battle over homeschooling has reached nightmare proportions. In a case the HSLDA refers to as “Family Execution—Swedish Style,” armed police dragged eight year old Domenic Johansson off an airplane as the Johansson family was preparing to move back to the mother’s native India and forcibly removed him from the custody of the parents. The state held the boy for three years, citing the child’s homeschooling as primary cause, and then on Monday, December 10, 2012, a Swedish appeals court overturned a lower court ruling in favor of the parents, and permanently terminated the Johansson’s custody of their son.
The assault on homeschooling is being waged across the globe. Parents like the Johanssons are losing their parental rights permanently in cases where the only offense is the family’s personal decision about their child’s education. Children from loving homes, who have never suffered a moments abuse or mistreatment, are being dragged away from heart broken parents and given to foster homes as if the state were giving a dog up for adoption.
The words of Ruby Harrold-Claesson, president of the Nordic Committee on Human Rights, spoken about the tribulations of the Johansson family, may apply to many other families in the future, crushed by an uncaring, all powerful state that is convinced it knows what is best for your children:
“This is a despicable act. I don’t know how these judges can have done this. The chief judge wrote a strong dissent that I hope will make an impact on the Swedish Supreme Court. We will appeal this horrible decision. Annie collapsed when she heard the news. How can anyone endure this kind of torture for so long, I don’t know. It’s unbearable to see how the pride of government officials is wrecking the lives of the Johanssons and others like them. These people have broken the law by taking this boy without justification and keeping him for three-and-a-half years. It’s uncivilized.”