Schools and CPS

World Net Daily reports today of a family in German that has had their five children removed and placed in foster care due to the family homeschooling.  WND has been highlighting over the past how German authorities have been forcing families to send their children to government schools or face fines and/or prison.

While we know that Germany is a far cry from Indiana, this matter raised several questions.  One of which was the question of educational neglect and homeschooling.  Is a parent in Indiana required to send their child to a state or state sanctioned school?  Some research revealed the following.

In Indiana, a parent can home school if they follow certain guide lines.  These are delineated in the Indiana Department of Education’s website regarding homeschooling at Indiana Home School Help Sheet.  The Children’s Law Center of Indiana, a part of Kid’s Voice of Indiana,  has a pdf file that explains educational neglect.

The CLCI explains it this way:

Question:  Is there such a thing as “educational neglect ?”

Answer:  Yes. Indiana law requires that a child enroll in and attend school in the fall of the year the child becomes seven years old. The child must attend school until one of the following occurs: 1.) the child graduates; 2.) the child turns eighteen; or 3.) the child is sixteen or seventeen years of age and is given written consent to withdraw by his parents and his principal.
While the law does not clearly define what constitutes educational neglect, the
compulsory education law requires a child to attend school every day that school is in
session. A parent would seemingly be neglecting the child’s education if the child failed
to regularly attend school and had no reasonable medical excuse. In addition to neglect
of education under the CHINS statute, a child’s truancy from school may result in
criminal charges as well.
Note: Parents who “home school” their children may defend themselves against a
charge of misdemeanor education neglect by claiming they provide the child with “instruction equivalent to that given in the public school.”

While we agree that the state has a right to ensure that children are receiving instruction, it does not have the right to force its philosophy of instruction on its citizens, hence the homeschooling option.

Keeping in this vein of wondering how Indiana schools respond to educational neglect we did some further research and were shocked by what we found occurring in Madison County.  The Anderson Herald-Bulletin , in an op-ed piece, dated July 22, 2008, the Herald-Bulletin states:

South Madison Community Schools officials are seeking to do something more about parental “educational neglect” by considering a policy that would enable the schools to contact Child Protective Services in cases where students have a pattern of disruptive behavior and parents won’t work with the schools to break the pattern.

The Herald-Bulletin’s editorial board rightly stated, “It’s stretching the definition of neglect further to include a parent’s failure to get a child to behave appropriately and put forth effort in class.”  A check of the South Madison CSC website has a list of the minutes of the school board’s meetings.

Quoting from their on-line meetings record:


Dr. Warmke presented the first reading of new Policy JGB – Parent Participation in Disciplinary Action. A parent or guardian of a dependent student may be required to participate in action taken by the District in connection with a student’s disruptive or inappropriate behavior.

Many concerns were expressed in reference to Policy JGB.

Some concerns that were mentioned:

Stronger Language (May verses Shall)

Safety concerns

May need to include Law Enforcement

Administration taking students home or to parent’s workplace

Consistency of how the policy is administered

Dr. Warmke feels that administrative guidelines would eliminate some of the Board’s concerns. Dr. Warmke also shared that the policy gives administrators the tool to make a referral to the Child Protection Services Division of Public Welfare.

This policy, which South Madison Community School Corp. Superintendent Tom Warmke says is the same as the Indiana School Board Association policy should send shivers down the spines of every parent in Indiana.  Have a child who is giving the school a problem, and you could end up with DCS/CPS knocking at your door.

If a child is disruptive, unruly or otherwise a royal pain, and they do exist, deal with the situation within the confines of the school.  Suspension, expulsion or other internal disciplinary remedies.  Not CPS.  If the child is engaging in criminal behaviour, then bring in law enforcement.  The ONLY time CPS should be contacted by a school is if the school suspects neglect or abuse of a child, not because the teacher cannot control the student.

For a school district or the Indiana School Board Association to adopt this kind of policy simply shows how weak the educational system in Indiana has become.  To rely on the bully of state government, DCS/CPS, to help you maintain control of your school is tantamount to throwing in the towel.


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