Federal Relations


HSLDA Media Release
February 8, 2001

North Carolina Family Heading to Appellate Court:
Social Services Allegations Lead to Constitutional Conflict

For immediate release
February 8, 2001
Contact: Rich Jefferson
(540) 338-8663 or media@hslda.org

CLEVELAND COUNTY, NCóDo North Carolina home schooling families have a constitutional right to the privacy of their own home?

Despite that a local social worker says no, the Home School Legal Defense Association will argue before the North Carolina Court of Appeals on March 13, 2001, that the answer is yes.

The case arose in Cleveland County, NC, on Sept. 9, 1999. Acting like a typical two-year-old, the Stumbo's daughter failed to put all her clothes on before exiting her front door to pursue her pet kitten. Her older brother saw her and quickly brought the little girl back in the house, but someone was already complaining to the authorities.

Two hours later, a social worker drove up to the family's home on a 10-acre lot on a dead-end street. The social worker did not have a warrant to enter the home or examine the children as required by the Constitution. Nevertheless, she demanded to examine all the children. The family, after consulting with their HSLDA attorney, declined. When the case went to trial, the court ordered the family to immediately comply with the demands of the social worker.

The Stumbo family insists that social workers are bound by the Constitution just like police officers and every other person acting for the state. The Cleveland County Department of Social Services insists that social workers do not have to obey the Fourth Amendment.

The trial court judge in Cleveland County agreed with the local DSS, ruling that, "social workers are not state actors," and are therefore not bound by the U.S. Constitution. The judge ordered the family to immediately submit to the social worker's demands.

However, in an extraordinary move, the North Carolina Court of Appeals blocked the trial court order, and allowed the Stumbos time to appeal the case.

Oral arguments in the North Carolina Court of Appeals in Raleigh are scheduled for 9:30 a.m., March 13. Michael Farris, HSLDA Chairman and General Counsel, will be arguing on behalf of the family and the U.S. Constitution.

 Other Resources

More information on the Stumbo case