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Texas Officials Seize 7 Children From Parents And Criticize Their Home Schooling

Texas children adopted cps removal

Click here for an update to this story.

In a true story that can only be described as shocking, seven children were taken from a Texas couple by government social workers who then made home schooling the central issue.

Significantly, there are no allegations of abuse or neglect, the parents’ attorneys say.

The nightmare for Christina and Trevor Tutt began in September when a police officer found that one of their children, a four year old, had wandered away from home. The officer contacted the Texas Department of Family and Child Protective Services (CPS), which sent a social worker to investigate.

“Nobody in their right mind would want to stay home all day with so many children,” the social worker reportedly said about Christina Tutt. The casework, though, also allegedly said, “There is no problem here” – that is, no concerns about the kids’ safety. The unidentified caseworker ordered Christina to undergo a psychological examination and enroll in parenting classes, according to the Texas Home School Coalition, which is supporting the parents.

The Tutts are highly experienced parents who have been caring for troubled children for years. Some of their children are biological, others adopted. The parents were even featured speakers at Lake Pointe Church’s Adoption and Foster Care Conference. The Tutts had already completed parenting classes from Safe Families, an organization for foster parents.

Children Ordered Removed in Secret Hearing

Even though she had allegedly received documentation of the Tutts’ credentials, the social worker and CPS petitioned a judge to have the kids removed. On Nov. 14, 2013, Dallas County District Judge Graciela Olvera ordered the children removed from the home. Olvera’s order was made in an ex parte or secret hearing of which the Tutts were not aware. Neither the Tutts nor their lawyer had a chance to contest the order.

Take a hard look at the true state of public education…

So, on Nov. 21, three police cars pulled up outside the Tutts’ home to take the children, not “allowing their mother to put shoes on them and refusing to put them in their car seats,” according to the Texas Home School Coalition. The children were placed in foster care.

The Tutts were able to attend hearings on Dec. 4 and Dec. 16.

At the hearings CPS attorneys reportedly criticized the Tutts for not using the “state-certified home schooling curriculum.” The Coalition, though, noted that there is no “state certified home schooling curriculum” in Texas. Judge Olvera reportedly demanded to see documentation that the Tutt children had completed state-mandated tests, but there are no state-mandated tests for home school students in Texas.

The government-appointed guardian ad litem attorney said she opposed the children being home schooled and feared they were behind academically. The kids were being “brainwashed,” the attorney said.

In January, the Tutts appeared before a different judge, who, according to a Facebook support page “found no abuse or neglect and agreed the children should not have been removed.” Four of the children were returned. Of the three who weren’t returned, two were pending adoptions and the third was the oldest child and from a previous marriage. He is with his father.

Here’s what a Facebook page for the Tutts stated:

The judge agreed the children should not have been removed, and returned 4 of them. She ordered public schooling WHILE the children are evaluated by an educational expert. At that point the judge will decide what happens next.

Removal May Have Been Illegal

The Coalition and the Tutts believe that the actions of Judge Olvera and the CPS may have been illegal. The Coalition noted that education is not grounds for removal of children from a home under Texas state law.

There is also some evidence that CPS violated its own policies. Here is what a CPS memo stated about home schooling:

Whether parents choose to home school their children or send their child to another private or public school is not relevant to the CPS investigation. When CPS staff investigates a family for abuse/neglect, the investigation must focus on the occurrence, or risk, of abuse/neglect and not on the child’s educational setting.

Texas Home School Families Living in Fear

Not surprisingly, many home school families in Texas are now living in fear of the CPS, the police and the courts.

“Since all it takes is an anonymous phone call to have a family under investigation by CPS and if, with no evidence of abuse or neglect,” Texas Home School Coalition President Tim Lambert told The Washington Times, “a judge or CPS can remove children simply by alleging that the children are behind academically, then many families could be at risk.”

Lambert said he wanted to take the issue public in part to hold the judge accountable.

“There are some judges who do not respect the fundamental right of fit parents to direct the care, control, and upbringing of their children and instead believe that they have the right to make any decision that they believe is in ‘the best interest of the children,’” he wrote on the organization’s Facebook page. “Along with that low view of parental rights, these judges very often are not willing to require CPS to follow the restraints of the Texas Family Code, which includes protections for parents. These judges are most willing to give CPS caseworkers and attorneys whatever they ask for, in spite of what the law requires. In other words, they are overlooking the requirements of Texas statute for what CPS says is in ‘the best interest of the child.’

“The moral to that story is this: The best way to deal with judges who perpetrate these kinds of injustices is to expose them to the public and then defeat them at the ballot box. That is our plan.”

Learn more about the case and sign a petition here.

Editor’s note: An updated blog from the Texas Home School Association says the children initially were removed from the parents for an unknown reason and that the case only then became focused on home schooling. Off The Grid News is working on a follow-up story.

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43 comments

  1. That just proves that our children don’t belong to us.
    They are wards of the state, to do with whatever the state decides.

    • I had to stop and breath deeply before responding due to the rage I initially felt towards your comment because I am decidedly against state ownership of our children.. After thinking about it I am glad my children are grown and on their own. I feel empathy for my grandchild’s [one] dilemma because he is now in this sit rep. even though he is in Minnesota. If my son decides to continue home schooling will they [he] be in this situation as in Texas. Note: emoticons would help clarify your statement. Thanks

      • There is nothing to clarify. Free Man didn’t say he likes state ownership of children at all. Just stated that is what it seems like.

    • Freeman know harm intended but the longer you say they don’t belong to us soon you will
      start believeing it

    • 2nd Amendment, folks…this is what the sick disease called liberalism does…

    • In reply to this comment (knowing how it is being stated) I am posting this address to a YouTube short vid (approx 30 secs). It is by Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC. Some of you may like her, some may not, BUT it is important to know how the people we watch daily and allow to influence our thoughts, actually think and believe. Once we know the(their) ideology, we can see clearly. Her statement about “our” children (as she puts it) sounds caring and innocuous, but it is extremely dangerous in light of what we learn is taking place currently in our communities. People should download and carefully read the text of the AHA aka ‘ObamaCare’ (note, extremely boring but extremely necessary). When doing so, please be aware that written into the ‘billing codes’ is where a lot of the danger is masked.

  2. God bless HLSDA!

  3. I’m from Dallas and the public schools there are DEPLORABLE!!! On a scale of 1 – 10 of the public high schools, the highest score was 5, with several at 2. Anyone with the money sends their children to private school, but that costs a great deal in Dallas….anywhere from $5,500 – $25,500 PER CHILD!!!!! Multiply that by 7 and you’ve got a HUGE bill. No wonder this family home schools! Clearly there was bias on the part of the judge against homeschooling, and in this day and age, with the statistics clearly in favor of home schooling, that means the judge is just plain ignorant. This won’t stand, and I hope there is severe punishment for this grievous abuse of power. Praying for the psychological damage this has done the family and friends!!!! <

  4. I think it’s wrong what the state CPS worker and the judge did in this case. However, I do think we need to consider why a four year old child was found wandering away from home. just sayin’.

    • You don’t have kids, do you?

    • Google “thsc tutt case” and read the real story. This is bogus, regurgitated schlock in the guise of journalism. The child was not theirs, it was addressed, and this “article” makes it look like the whole thing was over home schooling. EYE ROLL. It was WORSE… it was literally over NOTHING.

      • We are unclear what point you are trying to make, but the children WERE theirs. Some biological. Some adopted. Both all were THEIRS. Thanks for posting.

      • Stella,

        The judge in the case is requiring the children to attend public school. That is on the THSC website. It seems you know this family personally, but we can only say that from our view as an outsider, the case is EVERYTHING about home schooling — CPS and guardian criticize the family’s home schooling and then the judge orders the kids to attend only public school. Home schooling is under attack here.

  5. When it comes to CPS, they do just as they please and for the most part, judges just rubber stamp any accusation. However, in Texas, it would seem they love to remove children in large numbers, even if they are totally wrong. CPS is not Child Protective Service, it is a Child Placing Service…..,they place children wherever it is financially beneficial to them. After all, they do get federal funding from Social Security Title IVE for each child they place in a different home.

    It is not only Texas where families live in fear of CPS…..it is the entire nation. The only people not in fear of CPS are those that think they will never have a CPS visit regarding their children. Many have found out that thinking like that is just plain stupid. They are coming…..they will get to you.

  6. people who home school their kids (unless it is a case of bullying) do so because they dont want people to know what is going on in their homes. these parents are suspicious of public institutions, backward and reactionary. there is no way they can teach science, math, literature, languages, art, music. they just arent equipped to do so. they are doing their kids a disservice based on their own suspicious and reactionary nature.

    • You really believe what you said Janey?? So people are just stupid sheep and the government is the wise master who can tell us how to live? You are dangerous. I know many parents who homeshool and they teach science, math, literature, languages, art, music and what ever else there is, they go to homeschool groups and help each other and follow a curriculum that is far moe advanced then most public schools, and there kids are better educated then most in public school. That is my experience.

    • Janey, you are an idiot. Those who home school, do so because they do not want their children growing up in the nasty, bullying, soul-crushing, sheep-creating, creativity-crushing, repeat what we tell you environment that is the public school system today. I have a 156 IQ – am a writer, artist, musician and martial artist, so, yes, I can teach my child on a multitude of subjects, all with the ability to use their mind for more than the repetition of whatever backward political/religious b.s. is prevalent at the time. My wife has a degree in psychology, and what we cannot teach our child, we can find a private tutor to teach them. You are obviously a tool, and hopefully, you will never bring any children into the world, as you will doom them to a non-life of conformity as either a McDonald’s counterperson, factory worker, or fodder for the military. Please do the thinking world a favor, and drink Clorox.

    • My dear, it seems you opened your mouth and your brain fell out. May I suggest you do your research next time. Warm Regards

    • I hope you are trolling. Wanna give your rights to totalitarian government? Go ahead, but you are the dangerous one here and unfortunately there is way too many people like you and your kind will be responsible for the Dawn Of The New Day that lurks behind the corner. Science, math, art is important to some degree like general knowledge. What is not thought is emotional intelligence, empathy and helping one another and those things are far more superior than your stupid math. World is in enough apathy as it is. We need a change. We need our humanity back. So don’t be a poor little pawn on a chess board okay?
      Oh and some food for the thought. The world government: govern – to rule; mente the mind. How many of your and truly your mind do you have left?

    • I homeschool my children. I have a senior who will be going to college almost free due to his ACT score (taken once and with little studying) qualifying him for scholarships. He is an accomplished musician and quite well read. Far more well read than most any public or private school student in our town. I have a freshman that will be done with high school at the end of her junior year and will begin taking college classes. The results show time and time again that homeschool student far outpace their public and private school peers. Pull your head out of the sand and realize that it works. The government doesn’t want us doing it because we are raising educated kids that can think for themselves and that know how this country should be run and aren’t sheeple following what they are told by the politicians.

    • Meg to Janey–
      How judgmental you are. I have a friend who home taught her 8 children, they all went to college and got degrees. Excelled. They were much more educated than most kids are being taught today.
      Today they are all married, have families and great citizens for our country.

  7. The liberals might finally figure out this is why they need guns – to protect their families from a tyrannical government.

  8. As far as I was told when researching homeschooling in Texas, you do have to subject your children to the state testing. Which only makes sense, how would they be able to see where the children are in relation to grade level, knowledge gained, etc. And ultimately I knew that while I was quite fond of certain subjects, there would be huge discrepancies in other subjects. Which would indeed be unfair to my children. However, that is my choice-and I see nothing wrong with people choosing for their own families. I would like to read more about this, I have a feeling there are things left out of the article.

    • NOPE. In Texas the TEA, State and School Districts have NO bearing on your program whatsoever. You do NOT have to take testing. It’s not “unfair” to anyone’s children to have a certain percentage of the population learning things in a completely different order than those in the system. That does not imply wildly uneven academic levels. Why would I give someone a Spanish test when they have been learning French? It will not accurately tell me anything. Home schooling and Public schooling are two completely different systems with completely different goals, in fact EACH home school is different. You cannot expect a STANDARDIZED test to accurately reflect the levels of someone with an individualized education. THat said, there ARE a lot of things left out. THis is rough paraphrasing of what actually happened to this family. You can read the full 3- part story at the texas home school coalition blog online. http://www.thsc.org (look on the main page for 2 different updates)

      • Even though different home schools may teach things in different ways, there still should be some standard. A third grade student should read at a third grade level… a 5th grader should be able to know certain historical information. A 16 year old should be able to tell you about politics and scientists and inventors, they should be able to write competently and read very well. They should know advanced math like Algebra, physics, geography and science and be able to write intelligent and informative papers on a variety of subjects at the high school level. Sadly, many home schooled students fall very far behind at an early age, and have a very difficult time in the real world once graduating. If students are taught the appropriate curriculum, curriculum that would be the basis for those tests in question, then they should be able to respond to those questions with clear, intelligent responses. If not, then they are not being taught what they need to know, and they should consider another form of education for their childl

    • “In Texas, you do have to subject your children to the state testing. Which only makes sense, how would they be able to see where the children are in relation to grade level, knowledge gained, etc.

      What do you propose happen to the millions of students across the country that score below grade level that attend public school? Should the police remove them from public school?

  9. I was homeschooled through high school and can tell you I was never academically deficient.
    Today, I am a 26 year old with a bachelor’s degree in Engineering finishing up my masters while working full time as a mechanical engineer for a major defense contractor. Often in college I wished the academic standards were HIGHER because I felt the courses outside my major were too easy to justify my time.
    My brothers are now in public school and the biggest problem they have is boredom. The coursework is so easy that if they get in trouble it’s usually for talking during class. The funny part is, when it comes time to take the test, they still get mostly As!

  10. Daniel,
    This is a paraphrased article that is taken piecemeal from other sources and is RIFE with inaccuracies! The children were NOT taken because of their home schooling. They were taken because of shoddy CPS case work that lead to them being removed without ANY cause.(yes, EVEN WORSE!) Once the Judge and CPS realized this, they used home schooling as a means to justify KEEPING the children. At no point were the Tutts given a choice between putting their kids in public school and risk losing them forever! (what do YOU think they would have done GIVEN that choice? Those kids would have been home on the 16th of December and IN public school–no decent parent stands on their principles over their own children in that way! And THSC NEVER reported that because it never happened!) Stop spreading such over dramatic LIES and PRESUPPOSITIONS when the TRUTH is MUCH WORSE! For the REAL and ENTIRE story you can look at http://www.thsc.org

    • Thank you, Stella, for posting about the inaccuracies in the article and correcting them! Those who truly want the truth and the opportunity to read the original story (not the stories that are rewritten off of other inaccurate articles and websites) should visit the Texas Home School Coalition page you gave (http://www.thsc.org), or the “Support the Tutts” FB page at https://www.facebook.com/SupportTheTutts

  11. I’m sure they were removed for other reasons as well. Most of the time these kids are severely abused. Those darker kids are not theirs….who knows what they are doing with them.
    People would be shocked if they found out what horrible things happen most of the time in these types of cases…
    They do not go to school so that they can not tell anything… A good parent always wants what’s best for the children and it is unhealthy staying home always with the same people. They need to go to school to learn that everyone has to go to learn and later to work for a living. 7 kids need clothing, shoes, food, backpacks. Many times home schooled are those kids from large families because they can save thousand by not letting them to go to schools.

    • Nope. They were NOT removed for ANYTHING. The caseworker testified in both hearings that she found nothing wrong, didn’t want a removal, and the kids were fine. It was a clerical error on her part that facilitated the removal and once it had occurred, she and the Judge who made the mistake covered it up. “those darker kids are not theirs…” REALLY. What century is this? Actually 4 of those “darker” kids ARE theirs from a legal standpoint and in the eyes of the law and God. Nice one.
      This was an open family with lots of visitors and professionals in and out often. They were by no means people who “stayed at home.” One more thing: did you know that it costs around $500 per child per year for curriculum when you home school? Not exactly a money saving venture. Add to that free school lunches and being able to work while your kids are in school and your assertion that it’s money saving is wholesale ridiculous.

  12. I would bet my last dollar that the family in question was failing in teaching their children to the standards of the grade level they should be at for their age. Why else would they want them evaluated and placed in a public school setting until they could be evaluated? While there may be many students that benefit from being home schooled by competent parents, I have personally seen the “education” many of these home schooled children receive from people who have no business even helping a child with homework…. Very often these children are so far behind their public school educated peers that it puts them at a severe disadvantage to them both intellectually and emotionally. Many suffer from poor social interaction because they were never exposed to a diversified group of people and those that are different from them. I have seen home schooled kids that were taught that no one knows where electricity comes from, that science was never mentioned because it was all false lies, and that were never exposed to history other than the history spoke of in the Bible. These are the dangers when education is not monitored and when basic educational mandates are not set up. I have witnessed 16 year old “students” not able to write a simple sentence, who cannot add and subtract simple equations, and who are not able to identify common trees, plants and mammals at a first grade level. When a 16 year old student cannot read beyond the first grade level there is a BIG problem. The parents insist they are being taught all they need to know. I should mention that the parents are barely literate – how can they be allowed to teach children anything? There have to be some guidelines or the children suffer in the end. If home schooling is being done appropriately, I would appreciate my child being evaluated to make sure they are up to the same level as other children their age, then I would know that I was doing my job. Parents that protest that must be unsure about their educational and teaching capabilities.

    • Actually, this was a home school veteran family with over 8 years of experience whose oldest son is a junior in computer engineering at Texas A & M and a member of the Corps of Cadets, so nice try on that theory. Even IF they were not doing a sufficient job, that is not a reason under ANY law of Texas, CPS policy, or even school district policy to remove their children from the home. The children were removed through poor CPS casework (see original thsc.org story) and then the judge and other authority figures sought to cover their mistaken/illegal removal by making it about home schooling. On appeal, the Judge continued to overstep the law by ordering educational evaluations over and above what the children had already received in foster care–which showed nothing significant, it even showed several children AHEAD of grade level.

      • Stella,

        We linked to the THSC story in our own story, but there is nothing in the original story about a clerical error. In fact, the entire THSC article says the issue WAS education. From the THSC article: “THSC wrote a letter to this attorney to clarify as to the status of home schooling in Texas and to note that her assertion that the children are behind academically does not meet the statutory definition of neglect according to the Texas Family Code.” That is exactly what we reported. Could you point us to something different on the THSC website?

    • you have witnessed 16 year old home schooled students that couldn’t write a sentence? I have witnessed 18 year old high school graduates that couldn’t write a sentence. They graduated from a high school in one of the highest per capita income states, were never held back and couldn’t read enough of a job application to know where to sign their name. So tell me again how home schooling makes them a less intelligent person.

  13. I feel for those people I got a divorce in June separated for a year before my divorce was finalized. I got full custody of my 16 year old daughter my family played a role in my divorce my mother, father, brothers, my grown kids, community involvement. I had the whole world against me in October 2013 my ex husband sent a cop to the school did a welfare check on my daughter asked if she was fed, abused in any way she told them she was fine then months go by today January 31, 2014 cops knock on my door
    asking me why I decided to homeschool my daughter and was I really homeschooling her excuse me of course I am show the cops the documentations I have to prove I was along with the class room I have set up with all the textbooks and it was my own mother this time called the cops everybody still upset I divorced my ex and they invited him to thanksgiving and christmas why I did not attend. I told the cops not against the law to homeschool. I am so tired of the drama. I guess they are going to try use against me because I am homeschooling her and my reasons had nothing to do with my ex I felt my daughter was not learning what she needed to learn. I am so furious feel about to explode. I live in Arkansas not sure I can afford a attorney at this point have little money now. I started homeschooling her December 1, 2013 and have seen a big improvement she is doing much better now. This is sad how ex’s and family members use the cops on welfare checks and such asked them today if they are called out again are they coming back they said yes that they had to so if they are called out 20 times they come out this is crazy. I completely abide by the Arkansas homeschooling laws.

  14. My daughter is at 2nd grade math level she does everything else good, I felt needed to pull her out to get her math skills where she needs to be before she graduates so she can go to college. I tried with parent/teacher conferences and constant communication with school staff and was getting nowhere so I filled the form out went talked to supertendient and he told me he felt they failed her and yes they did and my daughter is the most important thing to me in my life and she is worth fighting for.

  15. So you tell me what is wrong with this picture a ex I have to fight with all the time, my family involved way to much in my business calling cops on me because I am homeschooling my daughter. My daughter is 16 years old at second grade math level. The cops acted like homeschooling was a crime today when the subject was brought up. I just have to hang on for the ride I guess see what they try to pull next but, I feel they are going to try this homeschooling angle trying to get custody took away from me I am a good mother, my daughter is well taken care of has plenty food, clothing, her needs are meant.

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