For five months a family has been separated by a Dallas judge–not for abuse or neglect–but because their children were seemingly educated at home. In March a separate judge ruled that the hearing records must be provided to an advocacy group so the situation may be more closely monitored.
Legal problems for the family of Trevor and Christina Tutt began in late 2013 when their autistic four-year-old wandered from their home. Despite recognition the child was never in danger, Texas Child Protective Service caseworkers descended on the home following an anonymous complaint. In November 2013, constables took the seven children from the parents.
The family–a blend of biological, adopted and foster children–educates their children at home.
While legal in Texas for more than two decades, Associate Judge Graciela Olvera of Dallas County’s 256th Family District Court removed the children in part because they were not using a state-approved home schooling curriculum, according to court records. There is just one problem, according to Tim Lambert of the Texas Home School Coalition (THSC): there is no such requirement.
“The guardian ad litem denigrated [the homeschooling mother] for not submitting documentation of her home schooling to the state on a regular basis, including state-mandated tests. This, of course, is not only not required, but there is no way for someone to do so in Texas,” said Lambert.
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