A Texas homeschooling family had their children taken away and have been ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation. The children were forced to begin attending public school until the results of academic testing to determine if they are working at grade level have been completed. Homeschooling and parents’ rights advocacy groups have come out in support of the Tutt family.
The Tutt’s maintain adamantly that their seven children are on par academically and should not be forced to attend a “slow-moving” public school system. The ongoing ordeal began in November after an investigation by a Child Protective Services worker was allegedly botched. The agency sent a staffer to review the home after a four-year-old autistic child had wandered away from the Texas home. The CPS worker supposedly stated that she had no concerns about the safety of the home or the parents, but later signed a report which was used to prompt the removal of the children.
The Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) has offered support for the Tutt family and feels the children were illegally removed from the home without justification. According to the homeschooling group, a guardian ad litem was not appointed to the Tutt children until after the removal. The guardian ultimately referred to the children as “brainwashed” in a court report. The children’s academic prowess and homeschooling was reportedly not an issue until after their relocation.
Texas Judge Tena Callahan ordered the return of four of the seven children last week, but kept the public school order in place until after the parents complete the psychological evaluation. The three other children were not returned to the home because one is staying with her father, one is still pending adoption, and the other child pending adoption is subject to a reunification request by the biological parents.
Texas Home School Coalition President Tim Lambert had this to say about the Tutt case:
“While we are grateful that some of the Tutts’ children have been returned to them, it is astounding that a judge is now saying, in spite of CPS’s acknowledgment that everything is fine, that the children will remain in public school while the parents and children are tested. I have said for some time that the battle for home school freedom today is in the family courts and this case is more evidence of that. … Many judges view ‘the interest of the child’ to be justification to do almost anything as demonstrated here.”
The removal of the homeschooling children sparked a lively debate on the both home educational and parental rights on the coalition’s Facebook page. A multitude of commentators noted that public school children are not removed from the home due to poor academic performance.
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