New York CPS targets homeschool mom, claiming educational neglect after her move to Florida

A New York school district reported a homeschool mom to Child Protective Services (CPS) after she relocated to Florida, even though she had followed all applicable laws.

Before the case was…

A New York school district reported a homeschool mom to Child Protective Services (CPS) after she relocated to Florida, even though she had followed all applicable laws.

Before the case was deemed unfounded, CPS investigators had made several unwarranted requests to Jennifer Harrison, including a video call to see her home and interview her sons, ages 6 and 13.

Harrison reached out to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which contacted CPS officials on her behalf and reminded them they had no jurisdiction over her. 

“I am pleased that we were able to help resolve this CPS investigation for our member family – an investigation that never should have happened in the first place,” said T.J. Schmidt, HSLDA Senior Counsel. 

‘Calls one to two times per week’ 

The harassment began when Harrison decided to notify her children’s school district of her plan to move to Florida. 

“Hey, just letting you know that I don’t need to supply you with the fourth quarterly report or the end-of-year assessment because I’m going to be relocating,” she recalled telling officials. “Their response was, no, you still need to supply that information to us.” 

Because Harrison knew her state’s homeschool law, she was able to withstand demands from the district to come and unenroll her children from the school – especially since she had never actually enrolled them. 

This request was unlawful as New York homeschool laws do not require any further notices, assessments, or reports once former residents have moved out of state. 

However, the district continued reaching out to Harrison even after she had left New York. 

 “I was getting calls one to two times per week from them and emails from them demanding the paperwork, and wanting to know what my plan was – wanting to know where I moved,” she said. 

Later Harrison found out the district had reported her to CPS for educational neglect. 

“It stirred up a lot of heavy emotions for me, and I started to question myself,” she said. “Did I do something wrong? Should I have just given the information that they asked for?” 

The situation escalated when a CPS official in New York requested a video call to see Harrison’s home in Florida. 

“It reminded me of previous traumas, and I was worried about my children being reminded of that as well,” she said. 

During the video call, the CPS social worker asked intrusive questions to Harrison’s children, including the names of nearby towns. Since they had just moved to the area, her oldest son didn’t know how to answer. 

None of the questions related to the children’s schooling, Harrison noted. 

“I had to turn the camera around to show her the sand in my yard and Spanish moss hanging off the trees, because they don’t have that in New York,” she said. 

When the New York CPS official said she would probably transfer the case to her counterparts in Florida, HSLDA’s Schmidt intervened and sent a letter urging CPS to close the investigation. 

More than a month afterward, CPS deemed Harrison’s case unfounded and closed it. 

Because of her experience, Harrison encourages other homeschool families to know their rights and not concede to unlawful demands from government officials. 

“People worked really hard to get legislation in place to protect families and not let school districts bully them into handing over their right to self-direct education for their children,” she said. 

If homeschooling parents face situations like Harrison’s, they can reach out to HSLDA, which defends their freedoms to homeschool in all 50 states. 

“We try to go over all the options that a parent has when they are contacted by CPS,” Schmidt said. “Our goal is to inform a family of their rights and assist them in resolving any legitimate concerns CPS may have about possible abuse or neglect.”