Two young homeschooled children were taken from their mother because of a social worker’s improper reading of a blood test – and then kept in state custody for weeks even though the state’s own doctors said the children were perfectly fine, according to a lawsuit.
The federal lawsuit by the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) alleges that Child Protective Services (CPS) in Riverside County, California, hid evidence from courts and the mother’s legal team that would have allowed the children to go back to their mom, Vanessa Wilson.
“This civil rights challenge is, first and foremost, for Vanessa and her family,” HSLDA attorney James R. Mason said in a release. “But it is also for every American homeschooler. We cannot stand by when government agents treat any of our families in this outrageous manner.
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“In a larger sense, this lawsuit is for all American parents. Child welfare personnel and members of the medical profession do important services for our communities. However, this does not give them the power or right to seize children on the basis of preference and conjecture, rather than evidence and real science.”
Wilsons’s 7-year-old son was in state custody for 29 days, while her 4-year-old daughter was held for 50 days.
The controversy began after Wilson took her daughter to the hospital when she experienced flu-like symptoms and lethargy. It was at the hospital that doctors told her that her daughter had new-onset type 1 juvenile diabetes. It also was at the hospital that social workers began talking to Wilson. The daughter was discharged five days later in the care of the mom.
Wilson followed the treatment plan for her daughter, but three months later a case worker showed up at her door, accompanied by other CPS workers and a police officer. The case worker asked Wilson to administer a blood glucose meter test to the daughter, which the mom did. The reading of 261 was “within the acceptable blood glucose range” that the doctor had given Wilson, according to the lawsuit. And it was “significantly less” than the reading of 435 when the daughter was first administered to the hospital.
But the case worker determined that the new reading was too high.
“No medical records were reviewed. No doctor was called,” Mason wrote. “Convinced of her own medical expertise, the CPS worker — who had two other caseworkers, a casework supervisor, and an armed police officer with her — removed the 4-year-old diabetic daughter from Vanessa upon threat of arrest.”
CPS workers then had the daughter tested at the hospital.
“There, at the request of the caseworkers, doctors with the requisite knowledge, training, skill, and medical licenses (all of which the CPS workers lacked) performed a hemoglobin A1C test,” Mason wrote. “This is a long-range test that measures the average blood sugar level of the patient over the preceding three months.”
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On April 4, 2014, the day after the girl was removed from the home, “these doctors concluded that the girl’s medical condition and blood sugar levels were stable.
“They also found that the daughter’s diabetes had actually improved since her original diagnosis in January.”
Then, a second doctor agreed on April 6 that the “girl’s overall medical condition and blood sugar levels were stable, and that there was no medical reason why the girl could not be discharged from the hospital immediately,” HSLDA says.
Additionally, the girl’s own physician said her condition was fine.
But despite the evidence of three doctors that the child was healthy and the mother was following protocol, the state did not disclose the information to the court, which initially ruled against the mom. The mom, too, was kept in the dark.
“Vanessa’s legal team became suspicious when the family’s pediatrician mentioned that she had examined the daughter at the state’s request the day after CPS took custody,” Mason wrote. “CPS never disclosed any records or reports to the team. Finally, [HSLDA attorney Rex] Lowe was able to obtain the girl’s medical records directly from the hospital after an almost four-week delay.
“Shocked, Lowe confronted the prosecutor with his discovery that the state had been hiding not one, not two, but three favorable medical examinations — undertaken at the request of CPS by their own licensed doctors — which all confirmed that on the day after Vanessa’s children were removed, CPS knew there was no medical reason to continue detaining them.
“The prosecutor promptly dismissed the petition. But the damage had already been done.”
By then, the son had been in state custody for a month, the daughter nearly two months.
“The silence of the CPS workers and prosecutor is inexcusable,” Mason wrote. “Under California law, when CPS workers ask a doctor to examine a child for evidence of abuse or neglect, they have a statutory duty to disclose the results of that examination to the court and to the parents.”
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