Originally published November 3 2015
Illegal home invasion by New Jersey CPS could cost taxpayers $60 million
by Daniel Barker
(NaturalNews) When a New Jersey social worker showed up unexpectedly at the home of Christopher and Nicole Zimmer and demanded entry to question them and their son, Chris, about the boy's homeschooling, the Zimmers weren't sure how to react.
When Christopher Zimmer initially called the police to find out what rights he had in such a situation, the police gave him an "ultimatum" and advised him that the social worker had a right to investigate. Zimmer let the social worker in after she said he had better — "or else." Over the next two hours, an interrogation ensued in which personal details on a number of subjects were demanded of the boy, including questions about whether or not the parents fought, beat their son, used drugs or owned firearms.
The social worker, Michelle Marchese, also demanded to see health records, homeschool curriculum and the places where firearms were stored.
After the visit, a dismissive-sounding letter was sent to the parents accusing them of being uncooperative regarding the agency's "referral process" and informing them that the agency "will not be providing services to your child and your family at this time."
At this point, the Zimmers, having never asked for the agency's "services" to begin with, decided that enough was enough. They have now launched a $60 million lawsuit against the agency for an "unlawful and unconstitutional home intrusion" which trampled on their freedom.
State attempts to dismiss lawsuitThe state has filed to dismiss the complaint, citing what they claim was Marchese's "qualified immunity" and right to handle the case in such a manner.
The Zimmers' attorney has countered by saying:
"...there is a Constitutional Fundamental Right to be free from child abuse investigations where there is 'no reasonable and articulable evidence giving rise to a reasonable suspicion that a child has been abused or is in imminent danger of abuse.' "
The case may lead to an interesting legal precedent. For one thing, there is no law in New Jersey requiring homeschoolers to show their curriculum to any agency. It would seem that the Zimmers have a solid case against the state, and it's certainly encouraging to see families standing up to Child Protective Services (CPS).
As Christopher Zimmer said:
"We want to change it so that they just can't come pounding on your door and saying, 'If you don't let me in, you know who we are; we're going to take your kid away.' They need to start telling people what their rights are. If they want to act like cops, they can abide by the law like the police."
Homeschooling is not illegalIn recent years, CPS officials throughout the country have been abusing their authority in an effort to criminalize homeschooling. There have been numerous cases involving innocent law-abiding families whose lives have been disrupted by CPS raids and harassment merely because they opted to educate their children at home — a perfectly legal choice in all 50 states.
It's not exactly clear why and how CPS agencies have gradually transformed into strong-arm enforcers of an increasingly questionable and underperforming public education system. These agents' tactics would be considered highly invasive and disproportionate by any objective observer — even if homeschooling were illegal.
The public school system has grown to become dangerous and problematic in recent years. Homeschooling gives parents a chance to give their children real education in a safe and controlled environment. Those who take on the task of homeschooling should be respected — not condemned — and given the benefit of the doubt.
Yet, CPS agents all over the country are becoming arbiters of education — a job they are not only unsuited for, but also unauthorized to perform. Maybe when taxpayers begin having to cough up millions in damages against families like the Zimmers, things will begin to change.
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