(The Federalist) New York City mother Tanya Acevedo received a home visit from Child Protective Services at 7 p.m. this winter. They were investigating her for “educational neglect” because she had legally withdrawn her child from the public system to homeschool.
After Tanya let them in, a CPS investigator insisted that they interview her child in private, and inspected their apartment, including a look inside Tanya’s refrigerator—standard practice for a home under investigation for “neglect.” The officer left Tanya with stern instructions to produce documents and her child the next day at the CPS office.
Tanya called the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) for help. After many calls navigating the New York Public School District’s bureaucracy—and another visit from CPS—her case was closed. She had followed all the applicable laws to withdraw her son from public schools and begin homeschooling. The school district had not recorded the paperwork she’d filed, so her son began accruing “absences” that eventually triggered the CPS investigation.
“Even though the school knew that Tanya had filed a notice of intent to homeschool, it reported her to CPS for ‘educational neglect’ because its policy required it to do so after so many ‘absences’ had accrued,” writes Jim Mason, HSLDA’s vice president of litigation.
Tanya’s case prompted Mason to look into the city’s treatment of homeschooling families in general. He found it was common for the district to not file families’ homeschool notices, then report them to CPS. So, on December 5, HSLDA filed a civil rights suit against New York City Public schools for “systematic mistreatment of homeschooling families.”
“What happened to Tanya was the last straw,” Mason said in an interview. “Before this, there had been a string of what seemed to be bureaucratic oversights: people would fail to receive responses to their requests or letters, or else they wouldn’t receive their metro benefits. But this invasion of Tanya’s privacy was beyond the pale.”