Skip to comments.Home-schooling standoff (MA Liberals try to get state custody for 'abused' home-schooled kids)
Posted on 06/13/2003 12:26:29 PM PDT by pabianice
"We have legal custody of the children and we will do with them as we see fit," DSS worker Susan Etscovitz told the Bryants in their Gale Street home. "They are minors and they do what we tell them to do!"
WALTHAM, MA -- A legal battle over two home-schooled children exploded into a seven-hour standoff yesterday, when they refused to take a standardized test ordered by the Department of Social Services.
George Nicholas Bryant, 15, and Nyssa Bryant, 13, stood behind their parents, Kim and George, as police and DSS workers attempted to collect the children at 7:45 a.m. DSS demanded that the two complete a test to determine their educational level.
After a court order was issued by Framingham Juvenile Court around 1 p.m., the children were driven by their parents to a Waltham hotel.
Again, they refused to take the test.
"The court order said that the children must be here. It said nothing about taking the test," said George Bryant.
The second refusal came after an emotion-filled morning for the family, when DSS workers sternly demanded the Bryants comply with their orders.
"We have legal custody of the children and we will do with them as we see fit," DSS worker Susan Etscovitz told the Bryants in their Gale Street home. "They are minors and they do what we tell them to do."
Four police officers were also at the scene and attempted to coax the Bryants to listen to the DSS worker.
"We are simply here to prevent a breach of the peace," said Waltham Youth Officer Detective James Auld. "We will will not physically remove the children."
Yesterday's events are the continuation of a six-year legal battle between the family and Waltham Public Schools and the state.
The Bryants contend that the city and state do not have the legal right to force their children to take standardized tests, even though DSS workers have threatened to take their children from them.
"There have been threats all along. Most families fall to that bullying by the state and the legal system," said George Bryant.
"But this has been a six-year battle between the Waltham Public Schools and our family over who is in control of the education of our children," Bryant continued. "In the end the law of this state will protect us."
The Bryant children have never attended public school.
Both sides agree that the children are in no way abused mentally, physically, sexually or emotionally, but legal custody of the children was taken from Kim and George Bryant in December 2001. The children will remain under the legal custody of DSS until their 16th birthdays.
The parents have been ruled as unfit because they did not file educational plans or determine a grading system for the children, two criteria of Waltham Public School's home schooling policy.
"We do not believe in assessing our children based on a number or letter. Their education process is their personal intellectual property," said Bryant.
George Bryant said he was arrested six years ago, after not attending a meeting that the city contends he was summoned to. The meeting was called by the Waltham School Department for his failure to send his children to school.
"We want these issues aired in the open, in public. The school system and DSS have fought to keep this behind closed doors," said Bryant.
Superintendent of Schools Susan Parrella said she was unaware of yesterday's incident and that, currently the school department approves of the education plan filed by DSS for the Bryant children.
"An acceptable home school plan is in place right now," said Parrella. "I was not aware of any testing occurring today."
The Bryant children freely admit that they have no intention of taking a test.
"We don't want to take the test. We have taken them before and I don't think they are a fair assessment of what we know," said Nyssa Bryant. "And no one from DSS has ever asked us what we think."
Kenneth Pontes, area director of DSS, denied that workers have never talked to the children privately, but admitted that this type of case isn't often seen by his office.
"This is an unusual case. Different school systems require different regulations for home-schooled children. Waltham requires testing," said Pontes.
Pontes said that a possibility exists that the children will be removed from their home, but that was a last course of action.
"No one wants these children to be put in foster homes. The best course of action would for (the Bryants) to instruct the children to take the test," said Etscovitz.
The Bryant family is due in Framingham District Court this morning, to go before a juvenile court judge. According to DSS, this session will determine what their next course of action will be and if the children will be removed from the Bryants' home.
"These are our children and they have and always will be willing participants in their education," said Kim Bryant.
Some homeschooling families don't learn subjects in the same order that public school children learn them. They'll do a "unit study" and cover a broad range of topics all at once. Some families prefer to go at the child's pace (i.e. don't give them algebra if they don't understand basic math).
If that's the case with this family, the state may jump on a slightly low area and say, "These children need our help!" The children would then be stuck in the public school system wherever the state wanted to put them. Unlike their public school peers who are automatically moved with their class no matter what their grade is.
NO, the police we're there to "shame" the parents into making their kids take the test. It's one of those "What will everyone think?" kind of things that help to separate sheeple and cowards from principled people with character and integrity.
If you believe the parents have the right to do as they see fit regarding the education of their children, then you have your answer.
Just what is it that these kids KNOW that can't be measured by a test?
Perhaps theyve been taught proper disdain for communism and tyranny.
No public school test would ask the simple questions that would reveal that valuable knowledge.
It looks kind of fluffy for a pit bull ... some kind of spaniel or pointer mix?
Good luck to these folks. They're on the front lines, standing up for freedoms most people can't be bothered to defend.
All parents who buck the system must be very careful of DSS.
Recently in Mecklenberg County, NC, there has been a rash of kid stealing: The Stratton Family Ordeal.
Home visit by district rep
Submission of curriculum (overview, list of books)that demondtrates that it meets Mass Law for requirements...like state history, phys ed, etc.
It is the RIGHT OF TE PARENT to choose the venue. The school district can not refuse the parent's choice, unless they have PROBABLE CAUSE (evidence)that educational neglect is occurring. Period.
This district is out-of-bounds, and not acting in accordance with established law.
And the danger of the tests is this: Because the testing measures attutudes (affective domain) and has established a norm (do your kids fit the approved profile?) these results can be used for evidence of child abuse or neglect. These parents are being ordered to provide evidence against themselves...potentially... vis-a-vis custody of their children. (physical...nit just legal)
What you have here is a pissin' contest. DSS can't afford to have their charges aware of their rights...makes the job a lot harder. Too bad.
There is no legal reason for these parents not to prevail....just a matter of how much bureaucratic friction they are able to deal with. I hope HSLDA is on this case.