Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Mommy, where are they? {Part 3}

Christmas of 2013 came and went and the neighbor children {my children's playmates} still were not home.
{If you're just joining the story, you can read what happened to them here and here.}

I had been praying (no, begging) that the Lord would allow these children to be back in their own home, with their own parents, in familiar surroundings, with people who knew what they would love to have under their tree, in their own cosy beds for Christmas.
At the December 16th hearing, the judge would not allow these children to be returned, and now we would have to wait for yet another hearing in three more weeks.
{To read the reasoning behind this decision, click here.}

The next hearing was set for January 7, 2014.
I went to that hearing as well.
At a grassroots level, this whole situation was an outrage to our fellow homeschoolers.
So we decided to publicly, but peacefully, protest what was happening to the Tutt family right outside the courthouse building.

There were a few small media outlets there, and a very small story was written up about them in our local hometown, newspaper.

This time, I was not on the witness list.
This time, I sat in the courtroom.
The entire 8-plus hours.
The Tutt's case had been handed over to a new judge and the only thing she wanted to hear about was the reason for the removal of the children.
We all were hopeful that because she didn't want to hear about the homeschooling that she would see that there was no reason to yank these children from the safety of their own home and continue holding them hostage in the foster care system.
We heard from the police officers from our town who originally took the call about the wandering autistic boy.
We heard from the CPS worker who came out to do an initial investigation upon receiving the officer's complaint.
We heard from the supervisor of the CPS worker who wrote up the document with the language in it that said these children were in "immediate danger" because the Tutt's did not feel it necessary to do yet another psychological exam.
We heard from Christina Tutt's mother, the children's grandmother, who just so happens to be a judge in another county in our state.  A judge.
Then we heard testimony from the biological father of one of the children {Christina's former husband} as well as the biological brother of this child.
But things started to change when the principal of the public school where the children had been placed was called to testify.
And the person that administered the educational testing prior to the children being placed in the public school.
And then the Guardian Ad Litem had her turn.

Wait a minute.  "I thought we weren't supposed to even take the time to hear the arguments about the homeschooling.  That's not why these children were removed.  Why are we talking about the parents educational choices?"

Well, that all went out the window.
And there was nothing any of us could do about it.

At the end of the evening, the Tutt's had won only a partial victory.
The judge ruled that based on the testimony she heard, that there was indeed concern that a young autistic boy had wandered away from his current home with a young brother, but that this and the other things mentioned were not cause for these 7 children to be forcibly removed from their home.

Though only 4 of the 7 children {those who were either biological or their adoption was final} were to be returned home, they would have to stay in the public schools until further notice.  No more homeschooling until everyone involved was satisfied with the educational progress of the children.

How is that even legal in our state?
It isn't.

You can read the full details of this hearing and the legal ramifications for all homeschooling parents in a report by the Texas Homeschool Coalition found here.

You can read the thoughts of others on this case here, here, and here. 

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