One of the reasons my child was taken into foster care4 was an allegation against me of neglecting my son’s education, and not sending him to school. This is how they managed to pull it off.
Early on in the new semester after winter break, I received a call from the school that my ex husband was calling the district trying to find out what school my son was going to. This was a problem because my ex was under a domestic violence protective order requiring no contact with the child. However, it did not tell the school not to disclose the name of the child’s school he was attending; and did not specify anything else on release of records. If he came to the school and requested a copy of the file, they would have to give it to him, and/or telling my ex the name of the school might risk my child’s safety.
I decided to home school after having heard my ex threaten to “kidnap” my son, and fearing the worst I wanted to take no chances. I kept my son home.
I used the Abeka Books Curriculum which is a very good program that had been used at my son’s private school in Florida, based on Christian teachings. The curriculum is highly recommended, and is more than competent to meet standards of home schooling in Texas.
My first mistake was not withdrawing my son from school before removing him from attendance. That created the opportunity to be counted absent, and not for medical reasons. Although the school had been made aware, especially since they first contacted me, that there was a problem, the custody issues involved in my situation came forth when my ex had begun to dispute the legal papers I had given the school. So the school decided to hold off on allowing me to withdraw my son until the “legal team” could review my legal papers at the district level.
We went back and forth for a period of time, my son missing several weeks of school, technically, during all of this. Although I was teaching my son at home the school district never sent a truancy officer to visit, and they never asked for documentation. I did inform them in writing, and kept the copies of the correspondence in my files though.
After a couple of weeks, one week being spring break, there was much confusion as to my custody status and whether I was allowed to withdraw my son, since the separate custody battle had begun with a temporary restraining order placed on me, customary when suit is filed, so that the parent doesn’t remove the child from school. The timing had just perfectly overlapped and caused enough confusion such that the school disallowed the withdrawal until they figured it all out.
Unfortunately in my case, I had unseen forces at work, being two other parties, the child’s father and grandmother, working together, to fool the outsiders, into removing my child from my care under the guise of I was not a good mother. This opportunity came about when I removed him from school (out of fear he would be kidnapped) that they could say I didn’t care about his education and didn’t get him to school. Of course if you compare it to her allegation that he lived with her at the same time (for the six months prior) you start to see the holes in the story, but with so many cases in the family courts who has time to truly look at the big picture when the immediate case can be stamped and moved along.
Another mishap that I didn’t realise had occured was when the school then sent a notice by certified mail to me that they would be filing charges against me if I did not blah blah blah since I never got the letter, I don’t exactly know what it said. The address they had on file had been my child’s grandmother’s address & not mine. BIG MISTAKE.
I had recently moved to Texas on what was possibly meant to be a temporary basis, and was not sure where my son and I would stay for any length of time, so initially, in order to get my son back in school expeditiously, we used her address when I moved out of my brother’s house where we had been staying.
I forgot to change it or clarify anything regarding the address in the midst of the chaos at the time that caused me to fear sending my son to school in the first place; I should have done that immediately when I moved.
Again, in hindsight, that turned into another problem that played a huge role in my nightmare. The other huge mistake of mine was relying on the deal I had worked out with the child’s grandmother, that he was picked up in the afternoons by her from school. Normally, a grandmother picking up a child to keep until Mom or Dad get home seems perfectly acceptable; except when the grandmother has malicious intent. Although my son was brought to me once I returned home from work in the early evenings, it opened up for another opportunity for nefarious behavior on the grandmother’s part in order to secure her standing against me in court.
Since my son carpooled to school with his cousin, usually driven by my sister-in-law, I was rarely seen at the school on either morning dropoff or afternoon pickup. This ultimately hurt my standing in court when it had been alleged that my son lived with the grandmother for six months prior to the filing of the case (a requirement by law before bringing suit against me in court for custody) in order to prove he lived with her, she could then used the schools’ familiarity with her being there with my son as proof, or evidence via witnesses and the teachers and school staff were easily fooled because they saw her with my son in the afternoons and not me. This created ample collateral witnesses, and since CPS loves to use the public school as a place to interview and take children, it was very convenient for them as well in building a case. I was working at a flower shop in the afternoons but my son was living with me even though the school thought he didn’t (unbeknownst to me). I didn’t realise at the time that there was any such misunderstanding. That’s the way they wanted it to be.
I was charged with four counts of Failure to Abide By Compulsory Attendance Laws which pretty much means pay a fine and get your child’s butt to school.
That’s when the worst doesn’t happen. In my case, it did.
So having sent my notice to the wrong address it allowed for the opportunity for the child’s grandmother to then sign for it but not tell me about it. Thus, i didn’t find out until too late, and I was charged after I missed the deadline to do whatever the letter said – I believe it was to return my son to school in full attendance or face charges. I missed the deadline, unknowingly, as my arch enemy and my exhusband both chuckled quietly at the sinister mail follies in their diabolical plan that was coming together beautifully.
According to school files, they had a signed certified letter that I received notice from the school notifying me of the deadline to act in compliance or else. It appeared that I ignored the notice after receiving it and signing for it, and thus, did not care about my child’s education. Perfect for CPS to grab hold and run.
Prior to being adjudicated in court on the charges CPS used the fact that I had been CHARGED with truancy related accusations (not convicted when they did this, mind you…) in order to justify removing my child from my home.
I wrote many letters to the school during this entire process. Although my charges were ultimately dropped, the fact remained my son was taken away from me and the mere allegations allowed them one of several doors to walk through when coming up with ways to justify the removal of my son.
Remember – neglectful supervision is very elastic of a term, and almost anything can fit it. If CPS wants a child, they can use neglectful supervision to take that child, then, if the facts don’t match the theory, change the fact.
Several years later, looking at the records online, I found the name of the charges they filed against me actually are listed as something else – Parent Contributing to Nonattendance. Sounds a little more derogatory in my opinion. How they can just change what the person is charged with years later on record is beyond my comprehension, but disposition states Dismissed due to bad identification. Anyone know what that means? Email me and let me know.
So I hope this serves to at least warn you to be careful with your decision to home school and make sure you document all contact and dealings, follow the law and all procedures, and document it all. That was if you do find yourself in a nightmare situation, you may be able to overturn it, or hopefully avoid it all together.